Every year the country celebrates Swami Vivekananda’s birthday as ‘Youth Day’. He was born on January 12, 1863. Why his birthday is celebrated as ‘Youth Day’? The answer is here.
He used to say,”Be proud to call yourself a Hindu. Have muscles of iron and heart of steel. Serve the poor, the needy and the ignorant like your our brothers and sisters.”
This was the clarion call of Swami Vivekananda to his countrymen. He stirred the hearts and minds of the people of Bharat to the core. Swamiji exhorted them to shed lethargy and become strong in body, mind and spirit. Once some youth came to him and requested Swamiji to tell them something about the Gita. Swamiji asked them to go and play football and then ‘you will understand the holy Gita better.’ His idea was that only the brave and strong in every respect can understand the great truth and real message or meaning of the Gita. After all, what is Gita? It is to fight injustice and achieve victory over those who indulge in injustice even if they may be your own kith and kin.
Immortal words of Swami Vivekananda have great significance in solving the preset ills and problems that our country is facing today. We can repress terrorism only by remembering Swamiji’s teachings and his own exemplary life of total dedication to the service of his country-men till his death. He took samadhi at the age of 39 in 1902.
Swami Vivekananda translated the great Vedanta into practical life. We may call him an incarnation of the great Shankaracharya of the 8th century-the propounder of Vedanta. Of course, the impact and guidance of Swami Ramakrishna Paramhansa in molding Narendra Nath into Swami Vivekananda can never be minimised and forgotten. It was he who had realised the great potentialities of Vivekananda at their first meeting and decided to bestow spiritual powers upon him so that he may spread his Vendantic realistaion all over the world and also guide his other disciples.
Before going to America and delivering his historical speech at the Parliament of Religions at Chicago which electrified the audience and made him famous all over the world, he had travelled to every nook and corner of India and had seen with his own eyes the real condition of the people’s suffering and the arrogance of the foreign British rulers. Poverty and illiteracy of the masses touched and troubled his heart. The people also suffered from inferiority and fear complex. Swamiji hated weakness and cowardice and exhorted people to be fearless and brave. Here I am giving only two examples of his fearlessness.
Once he went to Varanasi. He was moving here and there when he was suddenly chased by a group of monkeys. At first, he was in a fix for some time, then he summoned courage and stood boldly before them The result was that the monkeys fled away.
Similarly, once he was travelling from Kolkata to Mathura by train. The compartment in which he was seated, two Englishmen were also sitting besides him. Throughout the journey they had been making fun of him and passing remarks which were unworthy. They were speaking in English. But Swamiji kept silent despite of the fact that he had wonderful command over the English language. His English speeches in America and England had made tremendous impact on the audience. Atlast, when the train reached Mathura railway station, the station master of the station who was a devotee of Swamiji at once attended Swamiji and started talking to him in English. This surprised the Englishmen who had been passing remarks at Swamiji on the presumption that Swamiji must be ignorant of English. So, when they realised their folly, naturally they wanted to know why did Swamiji remained silent when they were making fun of him. They asked him about the reason of his silence during the journey. Swamiji rebuffed them by saying, “well gentlemen. I have not met fools for the first time in my life”. On hearing such harsh words, the Englishmen lost their temper and threatened him. But Swamiji was not a saint to be cowed down. He at once rolled his sleeves and challenged them with the words that he would throw both of them out of the compartment and caught hold of their necks. Both the Englishmen apologised and requested Swamiji to pardon them. This shows that he was stout in body, mind, intellect and spirit.
He was fearless from his very childhood. Once in his early years while he was meditating, a snake somehow crawled and sat over his head. But his meditation was not disturbed and the snake also fled away slowly and silently without causing any harm, although when his mother saw this scene, she was very much afraid.
Vivekananda’s eloquent speeches had moved the hearts and minds of the people in America and England and impressed upon them the greatness of the Vedanta and the Hindu Dharma. The Christian missionaries got worried and they started vilification campaign against him but it was all in vain. Swamiji faced them boldly and stood firmly. It was the result of his firing and eloquent speeches that the western Press called him ‘The Cyclonic Hindu’. Margret Nobel, an Irish young girl, who later on was named Sister Nivedita by Swamiji was so much impressed of the greatness of Hindu culture that she decided to come over to India and devote her whole life to spread the message and teaching of her guru, Swami Vivekananda. And we know that she understood Hinduism and Hindustan better than many Hindus. She did wonderful service to the people of India.
Swamiji had ‘the milk of human kindness’ in his heart. He was full of compassion for the poor and the needy. He was always agonised on seeing the condition of his countrymen. He exhorted his audience in these words, “Do you feel in the heart of your hearts the pangs and sufferings of your fellow brothers and sisters? If so, why are you not doing anything for them? Be at once active and dedicate yourself in their service.”
Swamiji always repeated the Upanishadic message, “Arise, awake and stop not till the goal is reached.”
He founded the Ramakrishna Mission which has been doing great social service in our country and abroad.
The second Sarsanghachalak of the RSS Shri MS Golwalkar (Guruji) belonged to this mission and was a disciple of Swami Akhandananda, fellow brother of Swami Vivekananda.
(The writer is former editor of Panchjanya and can be contacted at 6/769, Vivekananda Puri, near Saraswati Shishu Mandir School, Civil Lines, Sitapur-261 001)