By R.N. Lakhotia
IT cannot be gainsaid that the main strength of every race or community lies in its spirituality. It is said that the death of a particular race begins the day its spirituality wanes and materialism gains ground. Swami Vivekananda was one of the greatest exponents on Hinduism and spirituality during the 19th century.
He delivered several talks on different aspects of spirituality. In this article I have given the extracts from the speeches of Swami Vivekananda as published in the Complete Works of Swami Vivekananda by giving the volume number and pages of his works, mentioned as (CW). These are as relevant today as they were at the time Swami Vivekananda spoke about them, with the hope that they will inspire persons of all ages to lead a spiritual life and not be led away by materialism alone. On the value of imparting spiritual knowledge, Swami Vivekananda rightly said:
?He who gives man spiritual knowledge is the greatest benefactor of mankind and as such we always find that those were the most powerful of men who helped man in his spiritual needs, because spirituality is the true basis of all our activities in life.? (CW-1/52)
Goal of Spirituality
It is an undisputed fact that the end of all religions is realisation of God in the soul. Many people love God for the hope of reward in this or the next world but it is better to love God for the sake of love for God only. Swami Ramakrishna Paramhansa often used to say that there is one God but there are different paths to realise the same God by quoting from the Upanishads the well-known dictum, ekam sat vipra bahuda vadanti, i.e. the truth is one but the sages call it by different names. The same thought was conveyed by Swami Vivekananda in the following words:
?As the different streams having their sources in different places all mingle their water in the sea, so, O, Lord, the different paths which men take through different tendencies, various though they appear, crooked or straight, all lead to Thee.? (CW-1/4)
A spiritual person must have faith in the existence of soul. About this Swami Vivekananda rightly emphasised:
?Well, then, the human soul is eternal and immortal, perfect and infinite, and death means only a change of centre from one body to another. The present is determined by our past actions, and the future by the present. The soul will go on evolving up or reverting back from birth to birth and death to death.? (CW-1/10)
For this Swamiji emphasised that our first duty is not to hate ourselves, because to advance spiritually we must have faith in ourselves first and then in God. He rightly said: ?He who has no faith in self can never have faith in God.? (CW-1/38).
Greatest quality to be possessed by a spiritual person is purity. Due to advancement of science and technology, more and more people have advanced materially.
Qualities of a Spiritual Person
One of the greatest qualities of a spiritual person is to remain cheerful. This aspect of cheerfulness was emphasised by Swami Vivekananda in the following words:
?The first sign that you are becoming religious is that you are becoming cheerful. When a man is gloomy, that may be dyspepsia, but it is not religion. A pleasurable feeling is the nature of the sattva.? (CW-1/264).
It was emphasised by Swamiji that unselfish love is the motive power of the universe. And, a spiritual person has abundance of such unselfish love and ever-abiding love in God.
One of the greatest qualities to be possessed by a spiritual person is purity. Due to advancement of science and technology, more and more people have advanced materially, even at the cost of pursuing their vocation by impure means and leading impure lives. Swami Vivekananda rightly emphasised the importance of a pure life in the following words:
?We are becoming more and more busy about our neighbours, and less and less about ourselves. The world will change if we change; if we are pure, the world will become pure. The question is why I should see evil in others. I cannot see evil unless I be evil. I cannot be miserable unless I am weak.? (CW-1/426).
?No impure soul can be religious; that is the one great condition; purity in every way is absolutely necessary.? (CW-4/24).
And, for purity he emphasised the value of pure food by emphasising that ?with ahara-shuddhi, when the food is pure, the sattva material becomes pure.? (CW-3/337). This means that we should never take non-vegetarian food if we truly wish to remain spiritual.
There can be different symbols for practising spirituality. However, Om has universal significance and has rightly been emphasised as the symbol of spirituality by various sages in India and abroad. In this connection Swami Vivekananda said:
?Repetition of Om and self-surrender to the Lord will strengthen the mind, and bring fresh energy.? (CW-1/221).
Once Swami Vivekananda was asked as to what would be of greatest help to establish a spiritual life. He believed in the efficacy of meditation. This is what he said in this connection:
?The greatest help to spiritual life is meditation (dhyana). In meditation we divest ourselves of all material conditions and feel our divine nature. We do not depend upon any external help in meditation. The touch of the soul can paint the brightest colour even in the dingiest of places; it can cast a fragrance over the vilest thing; it can make the wicked divine?and all enmity, all selfishness is effaced. The less the thought of the body, the better. (CW-2/37).
Swami Vivekananda had a practical approach to spirituality as he believed that the kingdom of heaven is within us and we have to realise our innate spiritual nature. Thus, God-realisation is the only goal of our human life and that is possible by remaining pure, cheerful, unselfish and by meditating on God. I would like to conclude this article with a very important statement made by Swami Vivekananda:
?The kingdom of Heaven is within us. He is there. He is the soul of all souls. See Him in your own soul. That is practical religion. That is freedom. Let us ask each other how much we are advanced in that; how much we are worshippers of the body, or real believers in God, the spirit; how much we believe ourselves to be the spirit. That is selfless. That is freedom. That is real worship. Realise yourself. (CW-4/246).
(The author is a reputed advocate and tax consultant and can be contacted at S-228, Greater Kailash-II, New Delhi-110 048.)