The modern mind frowns upon hero worship. Worshipping an ideal man, historical or mythical, is perceived as a psychological weakness that must be outgrown sooner than later. The Bharatiya Yuva is restless for a change today! Yuva Shakti is seeking a vision that satisfies their moral sensibilities and senses of justice. They have an icon, a democratic leader today who is taking the nation forward with a clear vision and plan of action. However, having an icon who connects the civilisational past with modernity is a rare privilege. Fortunately, we have such an icon in the form of Swami Vivekananda.
Swamiji influences colossal sacrifices to have a life loaded with energy, enthusiasm, free spirit of the intense and daring sannyasin, prepared to challenge death itself. This is the thing that makes the life and teachings of Swamiji such a hazardous combination of inspiration and motivation for the youth. Swamiji’s fearlessness makes him a strong icon for the youth.
Bharat had high idealism which Swamiji wanted her to cherish, but idealism was meaningless where millions starved
It was Swamiji’s courage to defy death itself, live for other people and unfurl the real man out of the man and so on that made him an icon before the advanced youth. The uncompromising duty to the truth, caring spirit and exceptional empathy attracts the youth. He stated, “Life is short and vanities of the world are transient. Only they alive who live for other people, the rest are more dead than alive.” Swamiji’s idea of serving man as God gives modern people the right attitude in dealing with marginalised people. Knowledge revolution has opened countless opportunities for youth to acquire wealth and enjoy life but the increase in wealth without an increase in wisdom or spirituality is generally seen to lead a person to immorality and ruin.
He told his pupil, “In the event that you surmise that infinite power, infinite learning, and unstoppable energy exist in you and on the off chance that you can bring out that control, you can likewise end up like me. Go and lecture all, “Arise, awake, sleep no more; inside every one of you, there is the ability to remove all wounds and all tragedies. Thus, with the earnest want to work to help other, that power and strength of a lion will consequently come.”
A Teacher Who guides youth
The youth is idealistic, energetic and optimistic by nature. His energy should be channelled for higher purposes. He should be challenged to work for higher ideals which are not motivated by selfishness. We have no better teacher than Swami Vivekananda to look for resolving our modern dilemmas. For instance, in these ideologically partisan times, Swamiji’s resolve echoes, “If we believe that the other person is my brother and same as me, there’ll be no basis for violence.” He further added, “There is but one basis of well-being, social, political, or spiritual—to know that I and my brother are one.” It adds up to say something important about a newly minted faultline. Swamiji must have foreseen it because he said, “Being of one mind is the secret of society. And the more you go on fighting and quarrelling about all trivialities such as “Dravidian” and “Aryan”, and the question of Brahmins and non-Brahmins and all that, the further you are off from that accumulation of energy and power which is going to make the future India.”
Today, the opposition to Indian civilisation and ethics are about creating new trivialities. Sometimes, they divide us as North-South, sometimes based on religion and caste, sometimes as liberals and Marxists, and whatnot. Can’t we all live together as “Bharatiya” as Swamiji asked us? What is stopping us from belonging to our nationhood without trivialising it through many identity conflicts? Swamiji shows the way again.
Swamiji suggested, “Pick out your Guru from history…Worship the heroes of the world. Do not forget your Mahabharata and Ramayana. The true knight fights for duty than for gain. Choose your heroes from the heroes of action…Take the motto of the Upanishads: Although the path be as sharp as the blade of razor, stop not till the goal is reached.” Such simple sounding yet deepest wisdom has lessons for us today. Can’t we find an icon committed to social justice in our long history? Why must we import “icons” from other worlds who let their people perish in famines and massacred them in gulags and concentration camps?
Vivekananda was a symphony of many melodies. He was a scholar, a poet, and an orator; a mystic, a devotee, a worker, and a yogi; a nation-maker and a world-builder; a patriot and an internationalist; a worthy disciple and a compassionate master; a divine dreamer and a man of action-he was all these and many more. His doings and sayings are the spiritual legacy he has left behind for the modern India. He aroused enthusiasm and inspiration among the masses. Can we ask for more in one human being?
He was not even forty when he entered mahasamadhi. But his age is not to be calculated in solar years. For, in just ten years of public work he had implanted into human consciousness ideas which may need 1500 years to get worked out in full.
Bharat had high idealism which Swamiji wanted her to cherish, but idealism was meaningless where millions starved. Thus, coming back home, he talked more about social problems than about high philosophy. It was Swamiji’s hope that Bharat shall combine her best spiritual tradition with the latest advancements in science and technology and administration and good organising capability practices. In his integral vision of truth there was no distinction between science and religion, the East and the West, secular and spiritual and work and worship.
What Indian youth needs today is a thinker, a hero, an icon who inspires them to be integrationist. We live in the times when social and political hostilities are on the rise. Political opposition is pulling back the nation as she is ready to make a leap forward in the Amrit Kaal. The “pulling back” is the process of manufacturing new fault lines of division every time. We, the people of Bharat, need to fight it back by “looking back” into the past where an icon like Swamiji stands the tallest asking us to “Arise awake and stop not till the goal is reached!”