Must for every Student..............
Posted 02 June 2006 - 07:34 PM
Plzzzzzzzz get most out of this...............
Posted 02 June 2006 - 07:36 PM
SWAMI VIVEKANANDA'S inspiring personality was well known both in India and in America during the last decade of the nineteenth century and the first decade of the twentieth. The unknown monk of India suddenly leapt into fame at the Parliament of Religions held in Chicago in 1893, at which he represented Hinduism. His vast knowledge of Eastern and Western culture as well as his deep spiritual insight, fervid eloquence, brilliant conversation, broad human sympathy, colourful personality, and handsome figure made an irresistible appeal to the many types of Americans who came in contact with him. People who saw or heard Vivekananda even once still cherish his memory after a lapse of more than half a century.
In America Vivekananda's mission was the interpretation of India's spiritual culture, especially in its Vedantic setting. He also tried to enrich the religious consciousness of the Americans through the rational and humanistic teachings of the Vedanta philosophy. In America he became India's spiritual ambassador and pleaded eloquently for better understanding between India and the New World in order to create a healthy synthesis of East and West, of religion and science.
In his own motherland Vivekananda is regarded as the patriot saint of modern India and an inspirer of her dormant national consciousness, To the Hindus he preached the ideal of a strength-giving and man-making religion. Service to man as the visible manifestation of the Godhead was the special form of worship he advocated for the Indians, devoted as they were to the rituals and myths of their ancient faith. Many political leaders of India have publicly acknowledged their indebtedness to Swami Vivekananda.
The Swami's mission was both national and international. A lover of mankind, be strove to promote peace and human brotherhood on the spiritual foundation of the Vedantic Oneness of existence. A mystic of the highest order, Vivekananda had a direct and intuitive experience of Reality. He derived his ideas from that unfailing source of wisdom and often presented them in the soulstirring language of poetry.
The natural tendency of Vivekananda's mind, like that of his Master, Ramakrishna, was to soar above the world and forget itself in contemplation of the Absolute. But another part of his personality bled at the sight of human suffering in East and West alike. It might appear that his mind seldom found a point of rest in its oscillation between contemplation of God and service to man. Be that as it may, he chose, in obedience to a higher call, service to man as his mission on earth; and this choice has endeared him to people in the West, Americans in particular.
In the course of a short life of thirty-nine years (1863-1902), of which only ten were devoted to public activities-and those, too, in the midst of acute physical suffering-he left for posterity his four classics: Jnana-Yoga, Bhakti-Yoga, Karma-Yoga, and Raja-Yoga, all of which are outstanding treatises on Hindu philosophy. In addition, he delivered innumerable lectures, wrote inspired letters in his own hand to his many friends and disciples, composed numerous poems, and acted as spiritual guide to the many seekers, who came to him for instruction. He also organized the Ramakrishna Order of monks, which is the most outstanding religious organization of modern India. It is devoted to the propagation of the Hindu spiritual culture not only in the Swami's native land, but also in America and in other parts of the world.
Swami Vivekananda once spoke of himself as a "condensed India." His life and teachings are of inestimable value to the West for an understanding of the mind of Asia. William James, the Harvard philosopher, called the Swami the "paragon of Vedantists." Max Muller and Paul Deussen, the famous Orientalists of the nineteenth century, held him in genuine respect and affection. "His words," writes Romain Rolland, "are great music, phrases in the style of Beethoven, stirring rhythms like the march of Handel choruses. I cannot touch these sayings of his, scattered as they are through the pages of books, at thirty years' distance, without receiving a thrill through my body like an electric shock. And what shocks, what transports, must have been produced when in burning words they issued from the lips of the hero!''
Posted 02 June 2006 - 07:39 PM
On the occasion of America's Bicentennial Celebration in 1976, the National Portrait Gallery in Washington D.C., mounted a large portrait of Swami Vivekananda as part of its exhibition "Abroad in America: Visitors to the New Nation," which paid tribute to the great personalities who visited America from abroad and made a deep impression on the American mind. Among those honored in the exhibition, some influenced art or literature, some science, education or social reform. But Swami Vivekananda touched the very soul of American people. The commemorative volume of the exhibition says: "The Swami charmed the audiences with his magical oratory, and left an indelible mark on America's spiritual development." This is no exaggeration. Swami Vivekananda was the first Hindu monk from India ever to visit America. Guided solely by the will of Providence, he embarked on this journey to the new world. The unknown wandering monk, lost in the streets of Chicago, suddenly became famous after his first day's brief address before the Parliament. A select audience of nearly 7,000 enlightened representatives of different branches of American thought became thrilled to hear his message and welcomed him with sustained and thunderous applause. He captured the hearts of the American people. Crowds gathered in the streets of Chicago to see the picture posters of Swami Vivekananda placed on billboards around the city, and lecture bureaus vied with one another to enlist him for lectures in different cities. Leading newspapers and journals published his words in bold letters. Some of these newspapers described him as the "cyclonic Hindu," some as "prince among men" or "Brahmin monk," while others chose to designate him by such epithets as "warrior prophet" and "militant mystic." Contemporary leaders of American thought who met him were entranced by the radiance of his spiritual personality and his powerful message. Professor John Henry Wright of Harvard University told Swami Vivekananda: "To ask you, Swami, for your credentials is like asking the sun about its right to shine." After hearing Swami Vivekananda, the correspondent of one journal wrote: "The impertinence of sending half-educated theological students to instruct the wise and erudite Orientals was never brought home to an English-speaking audience more forcibly." Professor William James referred to Swami Vivekananda as "the paragon of Vedantists." The Parliament of Religions, which was an afterthought of the planners of the Columbian Exposition, became a focus of historic importance because it served as a pulpit for the presentation of the message of Swami Vivekananda to the American public. Recalling this event, Romain Rolland wrote: "His strength and beauty, the grace and dignity of his bearing, the dark light of his eyes, his imposing appearance, and from the moment he began to speak, the splendid music of his rich deep voice enthralled the vast audience.... The thought of this warrior prophet of India left a deep mark upon the United States." America thus had the blessing of directly hearing a person of the stature of Buddha, radiating purity, compassion, and love.
The message of Swami Vivekananda was the message of Vedanta -- a spiritual teaching that again and again saved India during periods of decline and crisis. The keynote of this message is: "Truth is one: Sages call it by various names." Its four cardinal points are non-duality of the Godhead, divinity of the soul, oneness of existence, and harmony of religions. Religion, in the light of Vedanta, is the manifestation of the divinity already in man. The central theme of Vedanta is harmony of religions. This spiritual harmony is to be realized by deepening our spiritual consciousness. Vedanta asks a Christian to be a true Christian, a Hindu a true Hindu, a Buddhist a true Buddhist, a Jew a true Jew, Moslem a true Moslem. The message was timely and powerful. America had received a rude shock from the Civil War and its aftermath. Science had already shaken the very roots of religious beliefs and dogmas, and the ideas of Darwin were challenging conventional American thought and religion. Americans were looking for a philosophy that could harmonize science with humanism and mystical experience, and Swami Vivekananda's words gave them hope for the fulfillment of their spiritual aspirations. The message was powerful not because of its dialectical superiority or philosophical subtlety, but because of the personality of Swami Vivekananda. The message was an ancient one, but it bore a fire of conviction that was new. One familiar with the life of Swami Vivekananda will recall that his Master, Sri Ramakrishna, saw in him the power and potentiality of a great world teacher. Before the Master passed away, he prophesied: "Narendra (Swami Vivekananda) will teach others ….. Very soon he will shake the world by his intellectual and spiritual powers."
The news of Swami Vivekananda’s success in America soon reached the shores of India and spread like wildfire. The country, lost in the slumber of inertia, woke up with its new vigor and confidence, and a spiritual renaissance was set into motion that would propel India to great intellectual and social development. Today Swami Vivekananda is regarded as the "patriot prophet" of new India. His words carry the power of inspiration and transformation.
Swami Vivekananda indicated Vedanta is the future religion of mankind. With his prophetic vision, he predicted that modern science and education would break down the barriers between nations and prepare the ground for the fulfillment of the age-old dream of one united world. But one world is possible only when there is one common Soul that transcends the limitations of race, culture, and religious denominations. Swami Vivekananda presents before humanity the World-Soul of Vedanta, the non-dual, nameless and formless all-pervading Pure Spirit that alone can make the dream of one world a reality. He foresaw a new world order in which science and religion would cooperate, mysticism would combine with humanism and spiritual harmony would replace religious dissension. His final words at the Chicago Parliament of Religions were, "Upon the banner of every religion will soon be written in spite of resistance 'Help and not Fight,' 'Assimilation and not Destruction,' 'Harmony and Peace and not Dissension.'" At a time when world peace is being maintained by continuous wars, divisiveness is glorified at the expense of unity, and the human soul is being buried beneath the debris of brutality, violence and hatred, the words of Swami Vivekananda give us assurance -- an assurance that we are not living the last days of our destiny and that the light of the Divine, shining in every heart, will triumph over the forces of darkness.
Posted 02 June 2006 - 07:44 PM
At the World's Parliament of Religions in Chicago, Illinois
11th September, 1893:
Sisters and Brothers of America,
It fills my heart with joy unspeakable to rise in response to the warm and cordial welcome which you have given us. I thank you in the name of the most ancient order of monks in the world; I thank you in the name of the mother of religions; I thank you in the name of millions and millions of Hindu people of all classes and sects.
My thanks, also, to some of the speakers on this platform who, referring to the delegates from Orient, have told you that these men from far-off nations may well claim the honor of bearing to different lands the idea of toleration. 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. I am proud to belong to a nation which has sheltered the persecuted and the refugees of all religions and nations of the earth. I am proud to tell you that we have gathered in our bosom the purest remnant of the Israelites, who came to Southern India and took refuge with us in the very year in which their holy temple was shattered to pieces by Roman tyranny. I am proud to belong to the religion which has sheltered and is still fostering the remnant of the grand Zoroastrian nation. I will quote to you, brethren, a few lines from a hymn which I remember to have repeated from my earliest boyhood, which is every day repeated by millions of human beings: "As the different streams having their sources in different places all mingle their water in the sea, sources in different tendencies, various though they appear, crooked or straight, all lead to Thee."
The present convention, which is one of the most august assemblies ever held, is in itself a vindication, a declaration to the world of wonderful doctrine preached in the Gita: "Whosoever comes to Me, through whatsoever form, I reach him; all men are struggling through paths which in the end lead to Me." Sectarianism, bigotry, and its horrible descendant, fanaticism, have long possessed this beautiful earth. They have filled the earth with violence, drenched it often and often with human blood, destroyed civilization and sent whole nations to despair. Had it not been for these horrible demons, human society would be far more advanced than it is now. But their time is come; and I fervently hope that the bell that tolled this morning in honor of this convention may be the death-knell of all fanaticism, of all persecutions with the sword or with the pen, and of all uncharitable feelings between persons wending their way to the same goal.
Posted 02 June 2006 - 07:49 PM
WHY WE DISAGREE
15th September, 1893
I will tell you a little story. You have heard the eloquent speaker who has just finished say, "Let us cease from abusing each other", and he was very sorry that there should be always so much variance.
But I think I should tell you a story which would illustrate the cause of this variance. A frog lived in a well. It had lived there for a long time. It was born there and brought up there, and yet was a little, small frog. Of course the evolutionists were not there then to tell us whether the frog lost its eyes or not, but, for our story's sake, we must take it for granted that it had its eyes, and that it every day cleansed the water of all the worms and bacilli that lived in it eith an energy that would do credit to our modern bacteriologists. In this way it went on and became a little sleek and fat. Well, one day another frog that lived in the sea came and fell into the well. "Where are you from?" "I am from the sea." "The sea! How big is that? Is it as big as my well?" and he took a leap from one side of the well to the other. "My friend", said the frog of the sea, "how do you compare the sea with your little well?" Then the frog took another leap and asked, "Is your sea so big?" "What nonsense you speak, to compare the sea with your well" "Well, then," said the frog of the well, "nothing can be bigger than my well; there can be nothing bigger than this; this fellow is a liar, so turn him out."
That has been the difficulty all the while.
I am a Hindu. I am sitting in my own little well and thinking that the whole world is my little well. The Christian sits in his little well and thinks the whole world is his well. The Mohammedan sits in his little well and thinks that is the whole world. I have to thank you of America for the great attempt you are making to break down the barriers of this little world of ours, and hope that, in future, the Lord will help you to accomplish your purpose.
Posted 02 June 2006 - 07:54 PM
ADDRESS AT THE FINAL SESSION
27th September, 1893
The World's Parliament of Religions has become an accomplished fact, and the merciful Father has helped those who labored to bring it into existence, and crowned with success their most unselfish labor.
My thanks to those noble souls whose large hearts and love of truth first dreamed this unfearful dream and then realised it. My thanks to the shower of liberal sentiments that has overflowed this platform. My thanks to this enlightened audience for their uniform kindness to me and for their appreciation of every thought that tends to smooth the friction of religions. A few jarring notes were heard from time to time in this harmony. My special thanks to them, for they have, by their striking contrast, made general harmony the sweeter.
Much has been said of the common ground of religious unity. I am not going just now to venture my own theory. But if anyone here hopes that this unity will come by the triumph of anyone of the religions and the destruction of others, to him I say, "Brother, yours is an impossible hope." Do I wish that the Christian would become Hindu? God forbid. Do I wish that the Hindu or Buddhist would become Christian? God forbid.
The seed is put in the ground, and earth and air and water are placed around it. Does the seed become the earth, or the air, or the water? No. It becomes a plant, it develops after the law of its own growth, assimilates the air, the earth, and the water, converts them into plant substance, and grows into a plant.
Similar is the case with religion. The Christian is not to become a Hindu or a Buddhist, not a Hindu or a Buddhist to become a Christian. But each must assimilate the spirit of the others and yet preserve his individuality and grow according to his own law of growth.
If the Parliament of Religions has shown anything to the world it is this: It has proved to the world that holiness, purity and charity are not the exclusive possessions of any church in the world, and that every system has produced men and women of the most exalted character. In the face of this evidence, if anybody dreams of the exclusive survival of his own religion and the destruction of the others, I pity him from the bottom of my heart, and point out to him that upon the banner of every religion will soon be written, in spite of resistance: "Help and not Fight", "Assimilation and not Destruction," "Harmony and Peace and not Dissension."
Posted 02 June 2006 - 08:01 PM
THX FOR AWAKING THE NEW GENERATION
Posted 02 June 2006 - 08:03 PM
He inspired Vivekananda to visit America
"I cannot express my obligations to you Alasinga and all my Ma dras friends for the most unselfish and heroic work you did for me… for it is you young men who have done all… I am only a figurehead" Thus wrote Swami Vivekanada in 1893 from the United States in the full flush of his victory in the World Parliament of Religions. The letter was addressed to a humble teacher, a young man of 28, M.C. Alasinga Perumal Iyengar, Headmaster of Pachaiyappa's High School in Madras. There was every reason for the great Swami to feel particularly happy about Alasinga, and (for him to go to the Parliament) his devoted band of Madras young men, for, as it happened, they were the main inspiration of Religions and the first unstinted financial supporters for the trip. FRIEND OF POOR How the Swami and the teacher met is another example of how great things are brought about by destiny with insignificant looking events. Born of humble parents in Chickmagalore in Mysore State in 1865, Alasinga had his education m Madras, first in the Presidency College and then in the Christian College under Dr. William Miller. Graduating in Science, he took to law but did not complete it. He started life as a teacher in a private school at Chidambaram. His efficient record got him the Headmastership of the Pachaiyapppa's High School in Madras in 1890. Almost to the end of his short life, he held this post with distinction and also earned a name as a friend of the poor, He was literally an institution, and crowds besieged him at hi" house to get all kinds of help, which he gave without stint. He was a friend of the high and the low, the rich and the poor the worldly-eminent and the spiritually exalted. UNKNOWN MONK Towards the end of the nineteenth century, a wave of spiritual revival was spreading all over India, thanks to great saint like Sri. Ramakrishna Paramahamsa who brought a fresh breath into the stifling atmosphere of bigoted orthodoxy. But the Ramkrishan Mission had not been founded; for that matter not even Swami Vivekananda was known; he had not even taken that name at the time, but was known by various names at various places, the best known of them being Swami Sacchidananda. In 1892 this young disciple of Ramakrishna came to Madras, comparatively an unknown monk. But his fame had reached some circles madras Prof. M. Rangacharya and Prof. Sundararama Iyer, two scholars of repute, then in Trivandrum, had met the Swami on his visit to that city after his epoch-making visit to Cape Kanyakumari and had been highly impressed by his erudition and royal bearing. They had written to friends in Madras and thus it happened that Alasinga Perumal came to hear of the Swami. Ever since it was announced that a great Parliament of Religions was to be held in Chicago in the later part of 1893, Alasinga had been trying without success to interest persons like Prop. Rangacharya to go there to represent Hinduism. END OF QUEST Learning that the well versed Swami mentioned by Prof. Rangacharya had come to the city as the guest of a Bengali officer, Alasinga was curious to meet him. At their very first meeting, Alasinga instinctively felt that his quest was over; he knew that he found his spiritual master and the person he was seeking to go to the United States to represent Hinduism, with the courage of conviction. He posed the momentous question. "Why not go to Chicago, Swami Ji?" The Swami did not readily agree; he had thought of it earlier but had his own doubts. But Alasinga's persistence succeeded. And the Swami instructed his disciple to collect funds for his passage. He however stipulated that the money should be collected mainly from the people, the middle class. The young man of Madras led by Alasinga rose to the occasion and collected within three or four days a sum of three thousand rupees. The die was cast, the Swami's passage to America was booked. Alasinga went to Bombay personally to see off the Swami. When the time of departure of the ship came, the Swami, with tears in his eyes, warmly embraced Alasinga who then prostrated himself at the feet of his Guru. Simple Alasinga was hardly aware of the significance of the chain of events he had so unostentatiously set in motion. INTIMATE LETTERS From America, Swami Vivekananda, who had become world renowned by now continued to write intimately to Alasinga. The famous sentence, "What I want is muscles of iron and nerves of steel, inside which dwells a mind of the same material as that of which the thunderbolt is made" occurs in one of the Swami's letters to Alasinga in the "Complete works of Swami Vivekananda" and in the book "Letters of Swami Vivekananda" can be found number of letters from Swami to Alasinga, dealing on various topics. It was at Vivekananda's behest that Alasinga Perumal started Brahmavadip, a serious journal of Vedanta. "If you could start a magazine on Vedantic lines," wrote the Swami from America in 1894, "it would further our object. Be positive; do not criticize others. - Give your message, teach what you have to teach, and stop there. The Lord knows the rest". In September 1895. Alasinga started the Brahmavidin with the assistance of other 'Madras Boys' like Dr. M. C. Nanjunda Row and G. Venkataranga Rao. The first editorial said "To us belongs the duty of placing before the world our ancient vedantic ideal of life-an ideal true and so full of promise to humanity even today if clothed in language suited to the understanding of modern man" The journal continued to serve the cause for nineteen years, establishing a very high standard for its contents. Professor Max Muller was so impressed with the editorial of the paper that he suggested collecting and publishing them in the book from under the title Brahmavadin Essays; he even wrote at introduction for the work, but unfortunately the book did not come out. Max Mullers introduction, however, was published later on in Brahmavadin after his death. JOURNAL FOR YOUTH Prabudha Bharata, another journal of repute, was also started by Alasinga Perumal, who felt that there was ned of less erudite journal for the benefit youth containing our ancient truths in story from. It was Alasinga who selected B. R. Rajam Iyer as the first editor of the journal. Rajam Iyer, the genius who had made name as a literary novelist in Tamil, made as brilliant a mark writing in English on Vedantic topics as his collected works "Rambles in Vedanta" has proved by its sustained popularity to this day. The Tamil Poet Subramaniya Bharati was friend of Alasinga Perumal and the later had a hand in getting Bharati fixed up as the editor of "Indian" the nationalist weekly started in Madras in 1906. When Alasinga passed away in 1909, at the early age of 44, Bharati wrote a touching note in his weekly, which had by then been shifted to Pondicherry. Bharati said it was not an exaggeration to say that no good work was organized in Madras without Alasinga Perumal having a leading role in it". Bharati recalled how when he met Sister Nivedita years ago and said there were no patriotic leaders to guide the youth of Madras like himself, she readily rejoined, Alasinga is there! If you have any doubts regarding public affairs, have them cleared by him" A poor man to the end-he spurned offers the sizable gifts by well-meaning symapathisers-Alasinga is a constant reminder of the strength of character of the great potential that lies hidden in unselfish hearts. He was karma yogi to the core. There can be no better tribute to Alasinga perumal's memory as a fitting conclusion to this life-sketch than the following description of him by Swami Vivekananda. (When Swami Vivekananda reached Madras on his way to the West for the second time, Alasinga traveled with the Swami from Madras to Colombo on board the ship with the intention of consulting the Swami about the Brahmavadin and the Madras work.) "Alasinga, Editor, Brahmavadin, who is a Mysore Brahmin of the Ramanuja sect, having a fondness for "Rasam" (Pungent and sour dal soup), with shaven head and forehead overspread with the caste-mark of the Tengale sect, has brought with him with great care, as his provision for the voyage. Two bundles in one of which there is fried flattened rice, and in another popped rice and fried peas, his idea is to live upon these during the voyage to Ceylon, so that his caste may remain intact. Alasinga had been to Ceylon once before, at which his caste-people tried to put him in-to trouble, without success. A Madrasi by birth, with his head shaven so as to leave a tuft in the centre, barefooted, and wearing the dhoti, he got into the first class; he was strolling now and then on the deck and when hungry, was chewing some of the popped rice and peas; However, one rarely finds men like our Alasinga in this world-one so unselfish, so hard working, and devoted to his Guru, and such an obedient disciple is indeed very rare on earth." "(…." Ours)
(The complete works of Swami Vivekananda, Vol. VII, PP. 315-16).
Posted 02 June 2006 - 08:59 PM
UNIVERSAL TEACHINGS OF SWAMI VIVEKANANDA
SEE GOD IN ALL
This is the gist of all worship - to be pure and to do good to others. He who sees Siva in the poor, in the weak, and in the diseased, really worships Siva, and if he sees Siva only in the image, his worship is but preliminary. He who has served and helped one poor man seeing Siva in him, without thinking of his cast, creed, or race, or anything, with him Siva is more pleased than with the man who sees Him only in temples.
GOD IS WITHIN YOU
It is impossible to find God outside of ourselves. Our own souls contribute all of the divinity that is outside of us. We are the greatest temple. The objectification is only a faint imitation of what we see within ourselves.
PERSEVERE IN YOUR SEARCH FOR GOD
To succeed, you must have tremendous perseverance, tremendous will. "I will drink the ocean," says the persevering soul, "at my will mountains will crumble up." Have that sort of energy, that sort of will, work hard, and you will reach the goal.
TRUST COMPLETELY IN GOD
Stand up for God; let the world go.
LOVE OF GOD IS ESSENTIAL
Giving up all other thoughts, with the whole mind day and night worship God. Thus being worshipped day and night, He reveals himself and makes His worshippers feel His presence.
Posted 02 June 2006 - 09:18 PM
"He is an Atheist who does not believe in himself.
The old Religions said that he was an Atheist who did not believe in God.
The New Religion says that he is an Atheist who does not believe in himself".
Posted 02 June 2006 - 09:19 PM
"My homage and respect to the very revered memory of Swami Vivekananda . . . . after having gone through [his works], the love that I had for my country became a thousandfold."
-- Mahatma Gandhi
"His whole life and teaching inspired my generation . . . . he brought his great spirituality to bear upon his patriotism and thus his message was not confined to India only, but was for the whole world. I pay my homage to his memory."
-- Jawaharlal Nehru
"The thought of this warrior prophet of India left a deep mark upon the United States . . . . I cannot touch these sayings of his . . . without giving a thrill through my body like an electric shock. And what shocks, what transports must have been produced when in burning words they issued from the lips of the hero!"
"[Vivekananda is] one of the very greatest historical figures that India has ever produced. When one sees the full range of his mind, one is astounded."
-- Christopher Isherwood
"The man [Vivekananda] is simply a wonder for oratorical power . . . the Swami is an honor to humanity."
-- William James
"At this exposition [the Parliament of Religions], the Swami charmed audiences with his magical oratory, and left an indelible mark on America's spiritual development."
-- National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution (from "Abroad in America: Visitors to the New Nation")
"It was the voice of the ancient rishis of the Vedas, speaking sweet words of love and toleration."
-- The Brooklyn Standar
Posted 03 June 2006 - 07:36 AM
Life of Swami Vivekananda
Swami Vivekananda was born Narendranath Dutta, son of a well-known lawyer in Calcutta, Biswanath Dutta, and a very intelligent and pious lady, Bhuvaneswari Devi, in the year 1863. Biswanath often had scholarly discussions with his clients and friends on politics, religion and society. He would invite Narendranath to join in these discussions. Narendra, not in the embarrassed, would say whatever he thought was right, advancing also arguments, in support of his stand. Some of Biswanath's friends resented Naren's presence among them, more so because he had the audacity to talk about matters concerning adults. Biswanath, however, encouraged him. Naren would say: Point out where I'm wrong, but why should you object to my independent thinking?
Naren learnt the Epics and Puranas from his mother, who was a good story-teller. He also inherited her memory among other qualities. He, in fact, owed much to her as he used to say later. Naren was all-round. He could sing, was good at sports, had a ready wit, his range of knowledge was extensive, had a rational frame of mind and he loved to help people . He was a natural leader. He was much sought after by the people because of his various accomplishments.
Naren passed Entrance Examination from the Metropolitan Institute and F.A. and B.A. Examinations from the General Assembly's Institution (now Scottish Church College). Hastie, Principal of the College, was highly impressed by Naren's philosophical insight. It was from Hastie that he first heard of Sri Ramakrishna.
As a student of Philosophy, the question of God was very much in his mind. Was there a God ? If there was a God, what was He like ? What were man's relations with Him ? Did He create this world which was so full of anomalies ? He discussed these questions with many, but no one could give him satisfactory answers. He looked to persons who could say they had seen God, but found none. Meanwhile, Keshab Sen had become the head of the Brahmo Movement. He was a great orator and many young people, attracted by his oratory, enrolled as members of the Brahmo Samaj. Naren also did the same. For some time he was satisfied with what the Brahmo Samaj taught him, but soon he began to feel it did not quite touch the core of the matter, so far as religion was concerned. A relation of his used to advise him to visit Ramakrishna at Dakshineswar, who, he said, would be able to remove all his doubts about religion. He happened to meet Ramakrishna at the house of a neighbour, but there is nothing on record about the impression that he created on Naren's mind. He, however, invited Naren to visit him at Dakshineswar some day. As the days passed, Naren began to grow restless about the various riddles that religion presented to him. He particularly wanted to meet a person who could talk about God with the authority of personal experience. Finally, he went to Ramakrishna one day and asked him straightaway if he had seen God. He said he had, and if Naren so wished, he could even show God to him. This naturally took Naren by surprise. But he did not know what to make of it, for though his simplicity and love of God impressed Naren, his idiosyncrasies made him suspect if Ramakrishna was not a 'monomaniac'. He began to watch him from close quarters and after a long time he was left in no doubt that Ramakrishna was an extraordinary man. He was the only man he had so far met who had completely mastered himself. Then, he was also the best illustration of every religious truth he preached. Naren loved and admired Ramakrishna but never surrendered his independence of judgment. Interestingly, Ramakrishna himself did not demand it of him, or of any other of his disciples. Nevertheless, Naren gradually came to accept Ramakrishna as his master.
Ramakrishna suffered from cancer and passed away in 1886. During his illness, a group of select young men had gathered round him and began to nurse him while receiving spiritual guidance from him. Naren was the leader of this group. Ramakrishna had wanted that they take to monastic life and had symbolically given them Gerua cloth. They accordingly founded a monastery at Baranagar and began to live together, depending upon they got by begging. Sometimes they would also wander about like other monks. Naren also would sometimes go travelling. It was while he was thus travelling that he assumed the name of Swami Vivekananda.
Vivekananda travelled extensively through India, sometimes on foot. He was shocked to see the conditions of rural India-people ignorant, superstitious, half-starved, and victims of caste-tyranny. If this shocked him, the callousness of the so-called educated upper classes shocked him still more. In the course of his travels he met many princes who invited him to stay with them as their guest. He met also city-based members of the intelligentsia-lawyers, teachers, journalists and government officials. He appealed to all to do something for the masses. No one seemed to pay any heed to him-except the Maharaja of Mysore, the Maharaja of Khetri and a few young men of Madras. Swami Vivekananda impressed on everybody the need to mobilize the masses. A few educated men and women could not solve the problem of the country; the mass power had to be harnessed to the task. He wanted the masses educated. The ruler of Mysore was among the first to make primary education free within his State. This, however, was not enough in Swamiji's view. A peasant could not afford to send his children to school, for he needed help in his field. He wanted education taken to the peasant's door-step, so that the peasant's children could work and learn at the same time. It was a kind of 'non-formal' education which perhaps he visualized. His letters to the Maharaja of Mysore on the subject show how much he had given to the subject and how original he was.
Other princes, or the intelligentsia as a whole, were impressed by Swamiji's personality, but were much too engrossed with their own affairs to pay any heed to his appeals. Some of the young men of Madras, Perumal specially, dedicated himself to the ideas Swamiji propounded and his contributions to the success of his mission were significant. Swamiji could guess the reason why the so-called leaders of the society ignored him. Who was he ? A mere wandering monk. There were hundreds of such monks all over the country. Why should they pay any special attention to him ? By and large, they followed only Western thinkers and those Indians who followed the West and had had some recognition in the West by so doing. It was slave mentality, but that was what characterized the attitude of the educated Indians over most matters. It pained Swamiji to see Indians strutting about in Western clothes and imitating Western ways and manners, as if that made them really Western. Later he would call out the nation and say, 'Feel proud that you are Indians even if you're wearing a loin-cloth'. He was not opposed to learning from the West, for he knew the Western people had some great qualities and it was because of those qualities that they had become so rich and powerful. He wanted India to learn science and technology from the West and its power to organize and its practical sense, but, at the same time, retain its high moral and spiritual idealism. But the selfishness of the so-called educated people pained him more. They were happy if they could care for themselves and they gave a damn to what happened to the people. Swamiji wanted to draw their attention to the miserable condition of the masses-illiterate, always on the verge of starvation, superstitious and victims of oppression by the upper castes and the rich landlords.
As Swamiji arrived in Madras, young people gathered round him drawn by his bright and inspiring talks. They begged him to go to the USA to attend the forthcoming Parliament of Religions in Chicago to represent Hinduism. They even started raising funds for the purpose. Swamiji was first reluctant but later felt some good might come of his visit to the West, for if he could make some impression there, his people back at home, who always judged a thing good or bad according as the Western critics thought of it, would then give him a respectful hearing. That is exactly what happened : Swamiji made a tremendous impression, first in the USA and then also in England. The press paid him the highest tributes as an exponent of India's age-old values; overnight he became a great national hero in India. Suddenly it was brought home to them that there must be something in Indian thought that Western intelligentsia feel compelled to admire. They began to suspect that perhaps they were not as backward as they once thought, and in areas like religion and philosophy, in art and literature, they were perhaps more advanced than the Western people. They had always felt sorry about themselves, but, now for the first time, they awoke to the richness of their heritage. This was the starting point of the Indian renaissance one hears about. A long successful of national leaders starting from Tilak have drawn inspiration from Swami Vivekananda. They 'discovered' India-her strong and weak points-through him. 'If you want to know India, study Vivekananda', was Tagore's advice to Romain Rolland. This holds true even today, indeed no one has studied India's body and mind so thoroughly as Swamiji did.
It was Swamiji's hope that India would create a new social order and a new civilization by combining her best spiritual traditions with the latest advancements in science and technology. She would be rich both materially and spiritually. He knew affluence was not enough, man had to be human, too. He wanted India to set an example in this.
Posted 03 June 2006 - 07:45 AM
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Quotations n Sayings of SWAMI VIVEKANANDA
Posted 04 June 2006 - 09:01 AM
Spirited but Mischievous
He came to be known as Swami Vivekanda only when he became a sannyasi or monk. His parents called him Narendra. His father was Vishwantha Datta and his mother Bhuvaneshwari Devi. Narendra was born on 12th January 1863 in Calcutta. As a child he was very lively and naughty.
When Narendra stepped into boyhood, his naughtiness grew. He was a natural leader of the children in the neighborhood. His companions bowed to his decision always. Once a landlord threatened the children saying, "There is a demon in the tree and he swallows children." Narendra was not impressed by this threat. He settled down on a branch. The other boys took to their heels. Narendra waited for several hours, but the demon did not appear. So, he declared that the landlord's story was a spoof. Narendra loved to tease his sisters. Meditation, too, was a sport to him. But as he meditated he became oblivious of the whole world. Not even a lizard or a snake moving near him could disturb his concentration.
Even as a child Narendra had great respect for sannyasis or ascetics. He would give away anything to anybody if asked for. On his birthday, he would wear new clothes, wouldn't he? If a beggar asked for alms he would give away the new clothes. From that day, his mother would lock him up in a room whenever a beggar passed by the house. But every beggar knew Narendra's nature very well. So beggars would stand near the window of Narendra's room. He would throw to them anything he had. The spirit of sacrifice and renunciation was already blossoming in him.
In her leisure time his mother would tell him the story of the Ramayana. He could not sleep unless she told him a story. Then he would be all ears, forgetting his study and play. He had great reverence for Lord Hanuman. Once he sat before the idol of Lord Shiva, with his body all smeared with ash. His perplexed mother asked him, "Naren, what's all this?" He smiled and said, "Mother, I'm Lord Shiva." The mother feared that her son would become a sannyasi, like his grandfather.
Posted 04 June 2006 - 09:10 AM
Narendra's father was a lawyer. So every day his house used to be crowded with his clients belonging to different castes. The house was like an inn; the clients had breakfast and lunch there. It was the custom to provide the guests with hukkas (long pipes) o smoke after food. There was a different pipe for clients of each caste. Narendra wondered what would happen if he smoked the pipe mean for people of a different caste. Finally he experimented nothing untoward happened. He concluded that caste had no meaning.
The maxim "The child is father of the man" was entirely true of the compassionate boy, Narendra. Once there was a display of physical exercises in a localgymnasium. Accidentally an iron bar fell on a sailor among the spectators. He fell down unconscious. The people who had gathered there ran away lest the police should question them. Narendra, with the help of two friends of his, gave the wounded sailor first aid. Then he took him to a doctor. He even raised some money for the wounded man. On another occasion Narendra pulled out one of his friends who had been caught under the wheel of a coach drawn by horses. Likewise he helped a little boy who was a total stranger. The boy was lying on a road with high fever. He took him home. Narendra never knew what fear was.
It was not that Narendra excelled only in sports; he was quick and alert in his studies as well. After a single reading he could remember any lesson. His memory was amazing. Concentration was the key to his success in studies.
Posted 04 June 2006 - 09:16 AM
Whenever Vishwanath Datta found time he would give his son advice. "You need fear no one so long as you keep to the path of truth and Dharma (Virtue). One should not be browbeaten. One should guard one's self-respect. Love of one's religion should not mean hatred of others religions. Patriotism is essential for man's welfare. Foreign enemies may invade a country, but they cannot take away people's ancient and potent culture." He loved to listen to his son's sweet voice. Narendra's face would become radiant when he sang devotional songs.
His mother was dear to Narendra as his own life, and to him she was a veritable goddess. In his eyes, there was no one as ready to make sacrifices as the mother. She must have the highest place not only in the home but also in society. He had great respect for his father too. But this did not come in the way of his freedom and independent thinking. He gave expression to what he felt even about his father. "Hospitality is certainly a great virtue. But is it right to feed the lazy? Is it right to provide them with cigarette and pipe to smoke?" This he would often question his father. But his father would say, "You do not understand their misery, my boy. When they much tobacco, they at least for a while forget the bitterness of their life."
By 1880, Narendra passed his Matriculation and Entrance Examination. He joined a college. Day by day, his thirst for knowledge increased. He would borrow from the library books not related to the prescribed courses and read them, and so satisfy his thirst. HE was particularly fascinated by the secrets of God's creation. Apart from history and science, he was well read in Western philosophy. As he advanced in his studies, his thinking faculty developed.Doubts anduncertainties overtook him. He gave up blind beliefs but could not realize the Truth.
He placed his doubts before eminent scholars and sought their guidance. These scholars excelled in debate. But their logic did not convince Narendra. Their line of thinking was stale. It did not convince him, for none of them had direct experience of God.
Posted 04 June 2006 - 09:20 AM
In Search Of the Guru
Sri Ramakrishna was a priest in the temple of Goddess Kali. He was not a scholar. But he was a great devotee. It was being said of him that he had realized God. Scholars who went to him became his disciples. Once, Narendra went with his friends to Dakshineswar to see him. Sri Ramakrishna sat surrounded by his disciples; he was immersed in discussions about God. Narendra sat in a corner with his friends. All at once Sri Ramakrishna's mind was in turmoil. He was thrilled. Indistinct thoughts upset his mind. Memories of an earlier meeting seemed to stir in him. For some time he sat still as if in a trance. Narendra's attractive figure and shining eyes filled him with wonder. "Can you sing?" he asked Narendra. Narendra sang a couple of Bengali songs in a melodious voice. As he listened to the music, the Bhagavan went into a trance. After some time he took Narendra into a room. He patted Narendra on the back and said, "My child, why are you so late? I have grown weary, waiting for all these days. I wanted to share my experiences with the right person. You are not an ordinary man. You are Lord Vishnu in human form. Do you know how much I have been craving for you?" And he broke down.
Sri Ramakrishna's behavior puzzled Narendra. He thought the elderly man was mad. "Will you come again? Promise me you will", pleaded Ramakrishna. Eager to escape from him, Narendra said, "Yes".
After the Bhagavan finished his discourse Narendra asked him,"Have you seen God?" "Of course I have. I have seen him just as I'm looking at you. I have even talked to him. I can show him to you. But who is yearning to see God?" replied Ramakrishna. Narendra said to himself, "Till today no one had told me he had seen God. This m an looks mentally deranged; possibly he is even mad. However, it is not proper to judge without investigating."
A month passed. Narendra went alone to Dakshineswar. Ramakrishna was resting on a cot in his room. He was pleased to seen Narendra; him sits on his cot. He went into a trance and put his leg on Narendra's lap. Narendra forgot the outer world. He felt that he was dissolving. He shouted, "What's this you are doing to me? My parents are still alive. I should go back to them." Smilingly Sri Ramakrishna said, "Enough for today," and drew back his lap. Narendra became normal once again.
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