Wednesday, 12 January 2022

Samartha Bharat Parva and Vivekananda Jayanti 2021/2022

 Swami Vivekananda sat on the mid-sea rock at Kanyakumari and meditated for three days on 25, 26, and 27th December 1892. This was a unique meditation. It was not for Samadhi, for Moksha or for one’s own peace of mind. Swamiji meditated there on what should he do, what should be his contribution for regeneration of India. It is there on that Rock that he took the momentous decision of participating in the Parliament of Religions at Chicago to represent Hindu Dharma. He was confident that when the Hindu philosophy is admired at the international forum, the people of his country would come out of the colonial mind-set and work for the regeneration of India, for making India capable to fulfil her destined role. That is why Vivekananda Kendra celebrates the period from 25 December to 12 January that is Swami Vivekananda Jayanti as Samartha Bharat Parva.

The freedom movement was mainly to express the soul of India which was suppressed by the British colonial powers. Swami Vivekananda gave a rousing call to Hindu nation. He emphatically said that he was proud to be a Hindu. Sri Aurobindo said Sanatana Dharma is the nationalism of India. Mahatma Gandhi talked about establishing Ramarajya. Sri Bankim Chandra called India as Durga incarnate. The freedom movement was not for political rule alone but to express Indian soul in all walks of life. 

When Swami Vivekananda called upon the Hindu nation to give the eternal truth of Oneness to the world, one might think, “Why this jingoism, this chauvinism? Does it not imply that other countries have nothing good in them?” Swami Vivekananda explained how every nation has a role to play. He said,

 

Just as there is individuality in every man, so there is a national individuality. As one man differs from another in certain particulars, in certain characteristics of his own, so one race differs from another in certain peculiar characteristics; and just as it is the mission of every man to fulfill a certain purpose in the economy of nature, just as there is a particular line set out for him by his own past Karma, so it is with nations -- each nation has a destiny to fulfill, each nation has a message to deliver, each nation has a mission to accomplish. Therefore, from the very start, we must have to understand the mission of our own race, the destiny it has to fulfill, the place it has to occupy in the march of nations, and note which it has to contribute to the harmony of races.

The question that needs to be asked is, ‘What is it that India has to give to the world, or contribute to the harmony of the races?’ India’s mission is spiritualization of the humanity. Swami Vivekananda said,

This is the theme of Indian life - work, the burden of her eternal songs, the backbone of her existence, the foundation of her being, the raison d’être of her very existence -- the spiritualization of the human race. In this her life-course she has never deviated, whether the Tartar ruled or the Turk, whether the Mogul ruled or the English. (CWSV, volume IV, p. 315)

 

Sri Aurobindo explained in his Uttarapara speech what Sanatana Dharma is based on the Sadhana that he did in the Alipore jail and also the realizations that he had. He told,

We speak often of the Hindu religion, of the Sanatana Dharma, but few of us really know what that religion is. Other religions are preponderatingly religions of faith and profession, but the Sanatana Dharma is life itself; it is a thing that has not so much to be believed as lived. This is the Dharma that for the salvation of humanity was cherished in the seclusion of this peninsula from of old. It is to give this religion that India is rising. She does not rise as other countries do, for self or when she is strong, to trample on the weak. She is rising to shed the eternal light entrusted to her over the world. India has always existed for humanity and not for herself and it is for humanity and not for herself that she must be great...

Well, the protection of the religion, the protection and upraising before the world of the Hindu religion, that is the work before us. But what is the Hindu religion? What is this religion which we call Sanatana, eternal? It is the Hindu religion only because the Hindu nation has kept it, because in this Peninsula it grew up in the seclusion of the sea and the Himalayas, because in this sacred and ancient land it was given as a charge to the Aryan race to preserve through the ages.

 

But it is not circumscribed by the confines of a single country, it does not belong peculiarly and for ever to a bounded part of the world. That which we call the Hindu religion is really the eternal religion, because it is the universal religion which embraces all others. If a religion is not universal, it cannot be eternal. A narrow religion, a sectarian religion, an exclusive religion can live only for a limited time and a limited purpose. This is the one religion that can triumph over materialism by including and anticipating the discoveries of science and the speculations of philosophy. It is the one religion which impresses on mankind the closeness of God to us and embraces in its compass all the possible means by which man can approach God.

 

It is the one religion which insists every moment on the truth which all religions acknowledge that He is in all men and all things and that in Him we move and have our being. It is the one religion which enables us not only to understand and believe this truth but to realise it with every part of our being. It is the one religion which shows the world what the world is, that it is the Lila of Vasudeva. It is the one religion which shows us how we can best play our part in that Lila, its subtlest laws and its noblest rules. It is the one religion which does not separate life in any smallest detail from religion, which knows what immortality is and has utterly removed from us the reality of death.

I said then that this movement is not a political movement and that nationalism is not politics but a religion, a creed, a faith. I say it again today, but I put it in another way. I say no longer that nationalism is a creed, a religion, a faith; I say that it is the Sanatana Dharma which for us is nationalism. This Hindu nation was born with the Sanatana Dharma, with it, it moves and with it it grows. When the Sanatana Dharma declines, then the nation declines, and if the Sanatana Dharma were capable of perishing, with the Sanatana Dharma it would perish.

Mahatma Gandhi wanted Ramarajya in India. What did he mean by Ramarajya? This question only the confused educated elite may ask. The people instantaneously understood and cherished the thought of fighting for freedom to have Ramarajya. The ideal Ramarajya, according to Gandhi, may be described as ‘the land of dharma and a realm of peace, harmony and happiness for young and old, high and low, all creatures and the earth itself, in recognition of a shared universal consciousness. In many places he wrote or talked about Ramarajya. As was the audience in front of him, he explained the concept in the language they understood. Sometimes it was at the spiritual level, or with respect to political rule or in the context of justice to women or to the poor of India. Few quotes are as below.

By political independence I do not mean an imitation to the British House of commons, or the soviet rule of Russia or the Fascist rule of Italy or the Nazi rule of Germany. They have systems suited to their genius. We must have ours suited to ours. What that can be is more than I can tell. I have described it as Ramarajya i.e., sovereignty of the people based on pure moral authority. (H, 2-1-1937, p. 374)

If you want to see God in the form of Ramarajya, the first requisite is self-introspection. You have to magnify your own faults a thousand-fold and shut your eyes to the faults of your neighbours. That is the only way to real progress. (H, 26-10-1947, p. 387)

जिनके तन और मन एक ही दिशा में - पवित्र दिशा में चलते जा रहे हों, जब तक ऐसी स्त्रियां हिन्दुस्तान के सार्वजनिक जीवन को पवित्र कर दें, तब तक रामराज्य अथवा स्वराज्य असंभव है. यदि ऐसा स्वराज्य संभव भी हो गया, तो वह ऐसा स्वराज्य होगा जिसमें स्त्रियों का पूरा-पूरा भाग नहीं होगा, और वह मेरे लिए निकम्मा स्वराज्य होगा. (Whose body and mind are moving in the same direction - in the holy direction, unless such women sanctify the public life of India, Ramrajya or Swarajya is impossible. Even if such swaraj became possible, it would be swaraj in which women would not have their full share, and that would be useless swaraj for me.)

But if we take the gist of all his writings and speeches, Ramarajya was supposed to be based on Dharma in which, moral uprightness, care for others, feeling of oneness, integrity of character and equality was inherent.  

Today the narrative in the country, in the media is vitiated. It would be difficult for any leader to tell in the open that India is a Hindu Nation or Sanatana Dharma is Nationalism or India need to be Ramarajya or India is Durga incarnate. The drives of freedom movement, the objectives of freedom movement are negated in media, in educational institutions and unfortunately in the minds of many elites. No person of some standing can openly talk of India as a Hindu nation or tell Sanatana Dharma as nationalism or calling for Ramarajya. He would be abused as communalist, or even threatened by anti-national forces openly.

The ‘Swa’, the ‘Atman’ of India is still not expressed fully in all walks of life. How did it happen? Since 1947, the guilt of the partition of India made the then political leaders to be yielding space to the non – Hindu forces in media, education, and over-all public discourse. Where would that lead us in decades? Eknathji had seen the writings on the wall.  That is why Eknathji wanted Vivekananda Kendra as a thought movement which would focus on the ‘Swa’ of India which comes from the Vedic vision of potential divinity of human soul and the oneness of existence. Thus, man is to strive for manifesting the Divine, the excellence, in all endeavors; and Oneness of existence if internalized motivates the man to serve the society, nation and nature. ‘Swaraj 75’ is a proper occasion to revisit the objectives of the freedom movement.

Even when facing barbaric forces and under the gravest provocations, our civilization has consistently, propagated non-conflicting ideas and practiced non-conflicting methods, because Oneness of existence is ingrained in Indian culture. The history of Bharat is replete with such instances, where, when Dharma was threatened, the spiritual vision and practical action organized the society to lift the nation from its morass and put it on its course. This has happened time and again. This is how the nation, that seemed to have lost hope, was always revived by the combination of spiritualism and activism such as Srikrishna and Arjuna, Samarth Ramdas and Chatrapati Shivaji, Vidyaranya Swami and Harihara Bukka and so on.

 Later the advent of Ramakrishna-Vivekananda and Swamiji’s fiery words delivered in his lectures from Colombo to Almora revitalized the spiritual nationalist surge which was manifested in the freedom movement. Then followed the great pantheon of leaders who fought for the freedom of Bharat. These freedom fighters had envisaged a glorious Bharat rooted in Sanatana Dharma and as the spiritual guide to the humanity. Their dream we need to remember at the time of Swaraj 75 and accordingly hasten our activities to actualize it. 

 Swami Vivekananda ignited the Youth power of Bharat and unleashed it to free the nation from foreign yoke. His words have the power to rouse the youth to work for nation to establish her as Jagadguru.

 


Nivedita Raghunath Bhide

 

 

 

Thursday, 9 December 2021

Gita and Modern Problems

To say that the Bhagavad Gita is a solution to modern problems does not mean that it is a readymade panacea for all our present troubles. The Gita serves to enlighten a person with a philosophy by which he can find solutions to current problems. The book has not lost its relevance with time since it is rooted in eternal truths - truths which are fundamental to humans and to the laws of nature.

The Gita is not just a religious book. Nor is it just a scientific treatise. It is a comprehensive world view. It does not reject spirituality as does Communism. Nor does it deny the realities of worldly existence and material needs. It balances the dual needs of spiritualism and materialism.

For Individual and Society

Another unique feature of the Gita is that it does not concentrate solely on individual 'Moksha'. It seeks to offer itself as a guide to society as well. The symbiotic relationship between the individual and the society is recognized by this book. The Gita exhorts the individual to carry out his duty - ‘Karma’ - so that it serves himself as well as the society around him. There is no scope for spiritual enlightenment of an individual who turns away from society and the material world.

The Gita provides a multifaceted outlook. Different 'darshanas' reveal different paths to spiritual enlightenment. The path of Action - Karma Yoga, the path of Knowledge - Jnana Yoga and the path of Devotion - Bhakti Yoga. In the Gita all these different methods are integrated. In this integrated approach, the different facets of the individual are given due importance. Thus the Gita serves as a blueprint for overall personal development.

Eternal Recurrence

Though the Gita was delivered at a particular period of time at Kurukshetra, its relevance has not been limited by time or space. The battlefield of Kurukshetra and the despair of Arjuna are phenomena of eternal recurrence in the mind. The confusion and despair among the present-day youth is similar to Arjuna's dejection. The weakness which drives our people to suicide when confronted with the simplest of failures, the withering away of ideology and ideals, the arrogance born out of ignorance, the cynicism which rejects as hopeless every effort to reform the society are all but manifestations of an inner despair. A feeling of hopelessness is apparent in the face of the present-day youth who refuses to look at problems squarely in the eye. Arjuna too was in such a predicament. The Bhagavad Gita which once saved Arjuna from his dire predicament is the answer to the demoralization of the present generation.

The Gita starts with an exhortation against weakness. It calls on Arjuna to abandon his despair as despair in no way suits such a brave warrior. This psychological approach is relevant to the youth of India who face a crisis of confidence and identity. It serves as a bulwark against the weakness of spirit which prompts modern day Arjunas to abandon hope and opt for the suicide solution.

A Self-Sufficient Work Ethic

It is not sufficient to reject despair. A positive alternative is required. Here too, the Gita shows the way. Self-help and self-sufficiency is the Gita approach. It is not advisable to depend upon others for self-development. Each individual and each society should develop by independent effort. What happens otherwise? Each one becomes a burden to oneself and to others. Next time the Gita thus provides a model which cautions against the dependence of the present-day youth on foreign help, goods or inspiration.

The book calls on us to be independent and self- sufficient. Do your duty - it says - each one has his own duty. Without this one cannot even support one's own body.

The attitude of our youth which prompts them to desist from dirtying their hands by an honest day's work, an attitude which makes him like the lazy way out. The Karma Yoga is an answer to this destructive work ethic.

The Gita elaborates on the concept of duty. It calls on us to fulfil our 'Karma' with an attitude of devotion - 'Yajna Bhavam'. When the Karma - duty - is done with an attitude of devotion and for the society as a whole it becomes 'Yagna'. One who performs his duty, only for himself, misses this exalted concept. In that case there is no devotion. Even when one cooks food for only oneself, it is considered to be a sin by the Gita philosophy. The Gita calls upon us to give the fruits of Karma to the society and to partake only what is essential for oneself. Such a doer is free from all sin.

Co-operative Development

So the doer is not free to accumulate all the fruits of his own labour. He can take what is needed. Yet he is only a Trustee of the wealth. The owner is the Almighty. The owner is the Society. The doer deserves only the remanents of his offerings. This relationship between Karma and the fruits of Karma is a quantum leap from the ideas of surplus value and exploitation of labour as enunciated in this classical communist/ capitalist dogmas.

Perhaps the most striking part of the Gita philosophy is the idea of Co-operative Development. The scripture rejects the idea that conflict and competition are the methods of achieving the highest good. Instead the emphasis is on co-operation. Competition ensures the survival of the fittest. Yet, the vast majority is marginalized in this rat race. Co-operation on the other hand ensures all-round development. Thus the Gita philosophy takes under its wings the society as a whole. If all of us are but parts of the Almighty, then, is not co-operation the natural path of development? Is not competitive conflict a denial of this holistic concept? Is it not denial of Godliness? Rejecting the western concept of the survival of the fittest as ungodly, the Gita emphasizes on the path of spirituality with co-operative development. It details this idea of wealth distribution.

The model of co-operative development is not confined to man alone. The relationship between man and nature is also part of this model. The scripture calls for co-operation, not just between man and man but between man and the Devas. By 'Devas', the Gita seeks to personify the force of nature. This, it says, can be achieved through Yajna. Yajna i.e. devotion should be according to the laws of nature. When we deviate from its path, we tread through danger, as we go against nature itself. The environmental destruction undertaken by the modern society in the name of development is thus opposed to the teachings of the Gita.

The Gita shows the golden mean which ensures the protection of environment along with the pursuit of 'development'.

The Dharma of W ealth

The Gita is not against the creation of wealth or the pursuit of material happiness. In fact it encourages wealth creation and material enjoyment. But both activities should be based on 'Dharma' and aimed at 'Moksha'. In that context wealth and desire become divine.

When wealth and desire are built on the ideals of Dharma and Moksha, luxury and competitive consumerism become meaningless. When desire, and rage which stems from the denial of the object of desire predominate, sinful actions result. The Bhagavad Gita condemns the trio - Kama, Krodha, Lobha. For, are not the conflict between individuals and nations based on these sins? Does not these lead to suffering?

While condemning this destructive path, the Gita offers solace to the strays. The sinner need not feel dejected. When one turns towards God one automatically becomes cleansed. He becomes 'Dharmathma' and achieves eternal peace of mind. 'My devotee is never destroyed' says Lord Krishna. 'Those who constantly meditate on myself will get everything they need' the Lord promises.

Scientific Spirit

The Gita is scientific to the core. The very spirit of science is the freedom to seek, question, experiment and to accept only if and when one is satisfied. The Gita too accepts and encourages this scientific spirit. It does not call for accepting its philosophy blindly. Nor does it want us to reject other teachings as blasphemy. Even in the midst of the conflict of Kurukshetra the Lord urges Arjuna to question. Afterwards Krishna reinforces the Gita philosophy with a demonstration of his own Eternal, all- encompassing self - the 'Viswa Rupam'. Finally the Lord advises Arjuna to critically analyse everything he (Krishna) has said and only then to adopt whatever he (Arjuna) feels appropriate. No other holy scripture offers such intellectual freedom. The Gita urges us to be critical of even the Vedas. It is this scientific spirit which has maintained its relevance through this yuga of science.

Convergence of EntitiesThe scripture is a guide for our daily life. It is not something put on a pedestal and light lamps to. It is not something you learn daily by heart and then put away. It is something you can live by. The Gita is not something you take up in the sunset of your life. It is something to guide through every stage of your multifaceted existence. Something which will give you material happiness and spiritual enlightenment.

In essence, the Arjuna-Krishna dialogue is but a symbolic one. Arjuna is the warrior. Krishna the philosopher. Arjuna is the doer. Krishna the guide. When there is a convergence between two such entities there will be prosperity and victory of justice. It is such a conference that is desired by everyone. The Gita shows us the path to such a convergence. This is the greatest teaching of the Bhagavad Gita.


P. Parameswaran
 

Friday, 8 October 2021

Celebrating the Womanhood…

History of mankind is full of stories of conquest, acquisition, valorous incidents and subjugation of the vanquished. The one common thing which will find place in all stories is the way women were treated, both by the victors and by the vanquished. Women are subjected to servitude throughout the history. Even in places where religious persecution took place while the men were either converted or killed, the women were taken into the custody of the oppressors. The plight of such women taken into custody by the fundamentalist is something which cannot find a place in any civilized society. They were looked upon as an object of exploitation and were subjected to physical and sexual harassment by the oppressors. The modern society also spins a similar web around the world of women making them an object of enjoyment for men. This is being done so cleverly under the garb of liberalism and freedom, that many women are falling prey to this without knowing that they are the victims. 

Lust and Greed have become the two main reasons for all sort of cultural and moral degradation throughout the world.  Going by this backdrop of history, it will be surprising for us to know that there is an exception to all these stated above. There is one society which viewed women as a divine being. It understood the greatness of women, that all important and indispensable things are viewed as feminine in nature. This is because of the fact they sustain us without expecting anything in return. The rivers, our nation, the nature itself are all viewed as both feminine and divine in our culture. The only way the vagaries of Lust and Greed can be tackled is by training our mind to view all women as our mother and show the same kind of care and affection to them. Swami Vivekananda had insisted on this.

“The ideal woman in India is the Mother, the Mother first, and the Mother last. The word Woman calls up to the mind of the Hindu, Motherhood; and God is called Mother… Is woman a name to be coupled with the physical body only? Ay! The Hindu mind fears all those ideals which say that the flesh must cling unto the flesh. No,no! Woman! Thou shalt not be coupled with anything connected with the flesh. The name has been called Holy once and forever, for what name is there which no lust can ever approach, no carnality ever come near, than the one-word Mother? That is the Ideal in India”. (CWSV, Vol.8, p.58). The worshipping of Mother Goddess is found in many ancient Pagan Civilisations. But it holds a unique and predominant position in the Hindu way of Life. Everything auspicious and valuable is associated with a Mother God. Wealth, Wisdom and Valor, three things which are indispensable to Human Society are expressed as the gift which we get by worshipping Lakshmi, Saraswati and Durga Devis respectively. The intrinsic value of a woman, blossoms into its fullness when she attains the Motherhood. Motherhood is a mental state. It is a mindset which fosters, cares and showers Love and Compassion without expecting anything in return. Mother’s Love is Universal. It is one emotion which is expressed by all living beings. But a Human being is alone capable of showing that love to everyone irrespective of whether they are her children or not. This Motherhood is an expression of Divinity. But there were a lot of undesirable changes which happened in our society due to the influence of the Invasion by outsiders. Due to these changes the position of women deteriorated. The invading cultures thrust their ugly suppressing methods due to which our society felt that the foremost duty of it is to protect its women. 

The Navaratri and Diwali Festivals are all about celebrating these expressions of motherhood. They are celebrated with such splendor and enthusiasm that the same forces which were the cause of the deterioration of the plight of our women, are envious of this atmosphere and are trying to undermine the spirit behind such festivities. We should remind ourselves that the spirit with which these festivities ought to be celebrated are to be kept intact. 



V.V.Balasubramanian
YB-ET

Friday, 3 September 2021

Sanatana Dharma: The Basis for Universal Brotherhood

Swami Vivekananda gave his first speech in the Parliament of Religion on 11 September 1893. After that practically every day he spoke in the Parliament in various sessions. On 19th September he spoke on Hindu Dharma. The gist of all his lectures was that there should not be the exclusive claims to truth. The exclusive approach leads to violence. The principles and the life based on these principles like - Oneness of the existence, divinity of man, one manifesting as many – are the basis of universal brotherhood. Universal brotherhood cannot be achieved by forcing everyone to follow the same path. But by realizing the One beyond the many. It was this clarion call of Swami Vivekananda is being celebrated in Vivekananda Kendra as Universal Brotherhood Day on 11 September.

What was the uniqueness of the message of Swami Vivekananda and what is its relevance to India? The Parliament of Religions was organized at Chicago in 1893 to proclaim how Christianity alone was a true religion. In Parliament of Religions everyone was stressing that how his religion is the only true religion. This exclusive approach has led to clashes and violence in the history of mankind. Therefore, the whole history of exclusive religions is written in blood and extermination of communities all over the world. The terror attack on WTC on 11 September 2001 also proved the same thing in the recent years. The world is diverse. No two men or two leaves of the same tree are exactly the same. The mental, attitudinal growth of each person is different so there cannot be only one path to pray to Ishvara. 

Swami Vivekananda stressed that only that approach, which says that each religion is valid for its followers can bring peace to the world. This approach is the inclusive approach. It is inclusive because it understands the creation as the manifestation of One and everything in it as its parts. Therefore, each nation or religion, man or woman, family or community should accept others (not just tolerate) and contribute for the wellbeing of all. Religion cannot be dogmatic. It has to be experiential. This approach alone can bring the brotherhood. Anubhuti of that One which has manifested as many, is the central theme of Sanatana Dharma. India whose life center is Sanatana Dharma has to guide the world which is hampered with dogmatisms and materialism. It is to remind ourselves of the mission of India and also to give this message that we celebrate Universal Brotherhood Day on 11 September. 

India had forgotten her mission. To awaken us to give this message that Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa took birth in 1836, exactly in the year when Macaulay introduced his ‘Minutes on Education’ to enslave our minds completely and permanently. 

The Macaulay education was deliberately designed to ridicule certain aspects of our Dharma. 

That Hindus are idol worshippers, 

They worship devils, 

Their languages are very crude and unless they learn English they cannot develop, 

India can be saved only if Hindus give up their Dharma and accept Jesus as the only son of God and Christianity as the only true religion. 

India is crude as she lives mostly in villages

Sri Ramakrishna's life was exactly to show the fallacy in each of these points. 

Sri Ramakrishna's whole spiritual Sadhana starts with idol worship. He showed through his Sadhana that we Hindus do not worship idols but worship God and realize Him through these idols. Thus, in all his Sadhanas he saw Only God everywhere and yet his worship through idols continued. Thus, worship of God in idols is the necessity of the beginner and is also the understanding of the realized. Because once the Truth is realized, one finds God in all that is around. 

His chosen deity for the idol worship was Kali whose terrible form may appear as devil for those who are in the nursery of spirituality. But he, by his Sadhana, realized Her as Mother of the Universe. 

He did not know English and yet the educated scholars like Keshav Chandra Sen, Narendranath Dutta sat at his feet to get the knowledge. Thus, he showed that ultimate knowledge to be acquired is beyond senses and languages. What matters is not scholarship but experiencing the Divine. 

He practiced various sadhanas including praying to Jesus and yet he remained in the Hindu Dharma nurtured by the Rishi tradition. He realized by his spiritual practices that Jesus was a son of God but not the only son of God. By his Sadhana of the exclusive religions he proved that exclusive claims by Abrahamic religionists is incorrect. After undergoing all types of spiritual practices, he said, "The Hindu religion alone is the Sanatana Dharma. The various creeds you hear nowadays have come into existence through the will of God and will disappear again through His will. They will not last forever. Therefore, I say, "I bow down at the feet of even the modern devotees." The Hindu religion has always existed and will always exist." (The Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna 6 Ed, P. 610) Sanatana Dharma is not about many Gods or One God but is based on the vision that there is only God. The whole creation is only an expression of God and God alone. This vision leads to inclusive and universal approach as everything becomes sacred and divine.

He was born and brought up in village and his life underlined that the villages of India do not denote crudeness or backwardness but are rich in spirituality.    

Swami Vivekananda was a disciple of such a person. Thus, it was very natural that when Swami Vivekananda went to America to participate in the Parliament of Religions, he stressed that all religions are valid for their followers. The whole Sadhana of Sri Ramakrishna was behind his words. And, therefore, his speech created such an everlasting impact.   

Romain Rolland puts the effect in the following words. " On Monday, September 11, 1893, the first session of the Parliament was opened...but it was the young man (Vivekananda) who represented nothing – and everything – the man belonging to no sect, but rather to India as a whole, who drew the glance of the assembled thousands...his speech was like a tongue of flame, it fired the souls of the listening throng.... Each of the other orators had spoken of his God, of the God of his sect. He – he alone – spoke of all their Gods, and embraced them all in the Universal Being. It was the breath of Ramakrishna, breaking down the barriers through the mouth of his great disciple... During the ensuing days he spoke again ten or twelve times. Each time he repeated with new arguments but with the same force of conviction his thesis of a universal religion without limit of time or space, uniting the whole Credo of human spirit from the enslaved fetishism of the savage to the most liberal creative affirmations of modern science. He harmonised them into a magnificent synthesis, which...helped all hopes to grow and flourish according to their own proper nature. There was to be no other dogma but the divinity inherent in man and his capacity of indefinite evolution... The effect of these mighty words was immense. Over the heads of the official representatives of the Parliament they were addressed to all and appealed to outside thought. Vivekananda's fame at once spread abroad, and India as a whole benefited..." 

“Swami Vivekananda, who completely surrendered himself to his most wonderful Master Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa, could have easily given in to the temptation of talking about him. But then, he was there to represent all Hindus, the whole Rishi tradition. So in the true spirit of a Hindu, his speech gave the common principles of Hindus of all sects. In Sister Nivedita's words, "Of the Swami's address before the Parliament of Religions, it may be said that when he began to speak it was of 'the religious ideas of the Hindus', but when he ended, Hinduism was created…. For it was no experience of his own that rose to the lips of the Swami Vivekananda there. He did not even take advantage of the occasion to tell the story of his Master. Instead of either of these, it was the religious consciousness of India that spoke through him, the message of his whole people, as determined by their whole past...Others stood beside the Swami Vivekananda, on the same platform as he, as apostles of particular creeds and churches. But it was his glory that he came to preach a religion to which each of these was, in his own words, 'only a traveling, a coming up, of different men, and women, through various conditions and circumstances to the same goal".

Swamiji who was proud of his religion and nation, which he unequivocally proclaimed there, could have stressed the greatness of his religion alone. But then he was there to represent the 'inclusive' and therefore, the universal aspects of Hindu Dharma so as to guide all other religions on the path of Universality. Though he never mentioned the name of Sri Ramakrishna or any other Rishi in his speech it was only their teachings that he spoke. In one of his letters he wrote, "But there is one thing to know: Great sages come with special messages for the world, and not for name; but their followers throw their teachings overboard and fight over their names-this is verily the history of the world. I do not take into any consideration whether people accept his name or not, but I am ready to lay down my life to help his teachings, his life, and his message spread all over the world."     

Thus, if anyone insists on the name and form of God as the only true name and only true form then it would lead to clashes. The insistence on name and form brings divisions. If we stress on the ‘message’ alone then Brotherhood is possible, because any realized soul is inclusive and therefore Universal in approach. A really spiritual person has to be inclusive. If someone claims spiritual status but is exclusive in approach, criticizes others’ Gods means the claim of spirituality is false. 

After his return from the West, Swamiji exhorted India to accomplish her world mission to give this knowledge for the evolution of humanity. For that she should raise herself. He asserted that Santana Dharma is the life center of India. Thus, to practice Dharma one also has to work for the country. His inspiring message moved many to fight for the freedom of India. This year we shall also be celebrating the 75 years of the Independence. 

The freedom movement was inspired by this vision that India has to raise not for herself but for the whole of humanity; she needs to be independent to express her national soul in all walks of life. Thus, Swami Vivekananda gave the ‘rousing call to the Hindu nation’ to be ‘Jagadguru’. Sri Aurobindo shared his realization that Sanatana Dharma is the nationalism, is the identity of India. Sri Bankimchandra envisaged her as the ‘Dashpraharandharini Durga’. Mahatma Gandhi aspired Ramrajya to commence with the independence of India. The visions of all these great persons are yet to be fully realized. 

Though the advent of Sri Ramakrishna put full stop to the dream of Macaulay- missionaries- colonial rulers combine to convert whole of India, but even after the Independence in 1947, we are not fully de-colonized mentally, intellectually and religiously. The year 2036 would be 200th year of the advent of Sri Ramakrishna and just after 11 years from it, would be the 100th year of Independence of India from the colonial rule. As we celebrate the completion of the 75 years of Independence, we should also make a resolve that by 2047 i.e., when India completes 100 years of Independence, the soul of India would manifest is all walks of national life and India would guide the world in spiritualty. Only when the Sanatana Dharma is understood and practiced world over, (Ishtadevatas and paths for religious practices could be many), the universal brotherhood would be experienced by the humanity. This role India is destined to play. Let us work towards such universal brotherhood.

Nivedita Raghunath Bhide