Relevance of Swami Vivekananda’s thoughts for Nation Rebuilding – Part I
Dr Ashok Modak, Adjunct Professor, University of Mumbai had delivered a keynote address on ‘Relevance of Swami Vivekananda’s thought for Nation-Rebuilding’ in a one day seminar organised by Swami Vivekananda Sardh Shati Samaroh Samiti & Vivekananda Education Society’s College of Arts, Science & Commerce on September 29, 2013. We are giving the excerpts of the address in four part series.
Let me, at the outset of my presentation inform you of my bewilderment or perplexity as I know that I am not competent enough to speak on the life and mission of Swami Vivekananda. There is however a Sanskrit Shloka which gives soothing relief to me. Swamiji has quoted this Shloka in one of his communications from the U.S.A. in 1894.
(Three things are very difficult to obtain. They actually depend on the mercy of the God. Human birth, the desire for salvation and the company of the great soul beings.)
Dear brothers and sisters, the fact that all of you are going to accompany me during this session and in fact during the whole day-long seminar is actually an evidence of the divine mercy showered on me.
Swami Vivekananda’s thoughts in fact reflect eternal values and that is why they are relevant forever. Do we ever question the relevance of Oxygen in human life? The seminar on Vivekananda’s thoughts indeed gives us an opportunity to participate in deliberations over lofty, valuable principles.
I would like to elaborate present circumstances with a view to underscore the relevance of the organisation of seminar on Vivekananda’s thoughts.
First let me refer to three dominant vices such as consumerism, permissivism and philistinism, the vices which practically dominate our day to day lives. We are, in fact gripped in a vicious circle in the sense that our care twopence attitude regarding Vivekananda’s thoughts has made us engaged in the senseless pursuit of stark materialism and the very pursuit has dragged us to embrace above mentioned vices. Need I tell you that the effective antidote lies in the pondering over Swamiji’s life and mission? Our participation in today’s seminar indeed gives us opportunity to do the same.
As for consumerism one can quote a statement from the speech delivered by Mr. Alan Greenspan (former Chief of the Federal Reserve System of the United States), “the propensity to save is a sign of backwardness.” The Americans implemented this statement to the full extent and the resultant rush in accomplishing greed has caused great damage to the environment. Same consumerism has goaded people to opt for subprime loans. It has moreover generated rampant corruption.
Thank God, we Indians are not blind followers of the Americans’ life pattern. But the elites in our middle class members do suffer from mad attraction for Euro-Americans. Such an attraction is evident in several ways such as spillover effects of the spread of metropolitan cities, encroachments on the habitats of animals and plants and multifaceted pollution, etc. This very attraction has prompted our elites to facilitate unbridled marketisation of various walks of our lives. The elites have thus outsourced various family obligations like cooking and child bearing respectively to the restaurants and to surrogate mothers. Outsourcing of the responsibility of taking care of parents to old-age lodges, to Þo`)k?ektß is also an evidence of the imitation of Anglo–American model. Ordinary Indian, with his faith in eternal values does, bother for members of his family. This concern on his part for the family moreover leads him to keep a portion of his income aside for the rainy season. He in short, refuses to be impressed by the above mentioned advice of Alan Greenspan. India is indeed saved as a result of such behavioural pattern on the part of a common man. We cannot however ignore the demonstration effect of elitism on common masses.
Consumerism, rooted in unrestrained individualism has generated crony capitalism and further nourished multidimensional corruption. Consumerism has, in short caused environmental problems, facilitated the outsourcing of family responsibilities to market institutions and encouraged people to indulge in corrupt practices. Least wonder, in the words of S. Gurumurthy, post independence India has witnessed a transition from shyness to shamelessness! Are we not required to deliberate over Swami Vivekananda’s life and mission with a view to overcoming the vice of consumerism?
That the vice of permissivism is also taking roots at a fast speed in our society is equally obvious. Stark and naked individualism is bound to lead people to pursue permissivism which least bothers for others. Bhagavat Gita has lucidly high-lighted permissivism in the Eighth stanza of the Sixteenth Chapter. The stanza is indeed a quotable quote.
The Tamasi or the un-godlike or the demoniac people treat this world as unreal, as without support, as without God and as not created one from the other. They therefore question: What is the object of this world, if not enjoying the objects of senses by human beings?
Such people are indeed fully engrossed in unadulterated permissivism. They don’t bother for the repercussions or consequences of their activities. According to them, objects of the world are not inter-related, and that is why they indulge in excessive sense gratification.
Friends, it is this permissivism which is the real cause of our concern. One of our former Central ministers, who is accused of stark corruption and sent to the jail by the Judiciary, surprisingly gets a temporary parole and comes out of jail. He however makes arrangements before his release on parole and thus manages to get crowds at the door of the prison to welcome him with flowers and garlands. The former minister perhaps considers himself as the avatar of a freedom fighter. Do we not get disturbed because of such shameless pursuit of permissivism?
We all know that according to Swami Vivekananda each and every being is divine. We also know that Swamiji expects everybody among us to give evidence of the divine spark through the broadening of hearts, through treating all men and women as ‘my’ brothers and sisters. Permissiveness or unrestrained selfishness indeed needs to be overcome! Hence the daylong seminar on Swamiji’s thoughts is indeed a must for facilitating the march towards divinity.
We all are fully aware of the fact that philistinism has also gripped our society. Even a casual glance at daily newspapers conveys to us that cases of rape and molestation have reached ignominious heights. Cases of incest with sisters, mothers and even daughters have indeed dwarfed those of sexual assaults and gang rapes. Maulana Vahiduddin Khan has rightly informed us through one of his articles; how during his stay in the USA an American had bluntly pointed out to him that character has become in India an exportable product only. Such a scenario unfolding itself in Bharatvarsha particularly during Vivekananda Year does hurt us, as Swamiji like his Guru kept himself totally aloof from Kanchan and Kamini. It was in September, 1896 that during his travels from Bremen to London Swami Vivekananda informed his friend Deussen of his observance of vows to renounce sex and gold. “Kama-Kanchana Viraha….” As has been correctly pointed out above it is the ‘caretwopence attitude’ on the part of the Indian youth regarding Vivekananda’s legacy that has goaded our collegians to organise rave parties and liquor parties and indulge in sexual assaults. The time in short underscores the urgency to inculcate this legacy with utmost sincerity.
(To be concluded)