4th of July marks the day on which Swami Vivekananda shed his mortal coil. Not just because of this, but we should pick every opportunity to remember him, as his exhortations to our countrymen are more relevant than they were ever before. The cultural nationalism which he envisioned, is a mixture of both Humanism and Universalism, the two important principles of Indian Spiritual Culture. Unlike the western nationalism, which is materialistic, Indian nationalism is based on the Dharmic values. A spiritual voyage will be considered incomplete in India if it doesn’t encompass a deep rooted concern and action for the fellow countrymen who are reeling under poverty and ignorance. So Indian spirituality is always embedded with selfless service. He wanted the Dharmic ideas to pervade our entire society. He believed that the revival of Indian Spirituality is not possible without the active participation of masses. He said, ‘Let a new India arise out of the peasant’s cottage grasping the plough; out of the hearts of the fisherman, the cobbler and the sweeper. Let her spring from the grocer’s shop, from beside the oven of the fritter-seller. Let her emanate from the factory, from the marts and from the markets. Let her emerge from the groves and forests, from the hills and mountains’.
At a time when the Vedantic ideas were confined to the domain of few elite intellectuals, it was Swami Vivekananda who took efforts to spread them to people at large. He said that, ‘ In India they tell me that I ought not to teach Advaita Vedanta to people at large. But I say that I can make even a child understand it. You cannot begin too early to teach the highest spiritual truths’. He put the whole of religion in practice in these few words. ‘Each soul is potentially Divine. The goal is to manifest this divinity within, by controlling nature, external and internal. Do this either by work, or worship, or psychic control, or philosophy, by one or more, or all of these, and be free. This is the whole of religion-doctrines,or dogmas,or rituals,or books,or temples or forms, are but secondary details’. He spoke only for 3 minutes during his first address in the world parliament of religions at Chicago, in 1893. But despite the brevity he made the sense of Universality very clear in the minds of the audience during that speech. His other speeches at the parliament also had the same theme of Universality. This message has become more relevant in the present circumstances where religious fundamentalism poses a grave threat to Humanity. While remembering him it is also pertinent to spread this message of Universality which will provide a succor to Humanistic and Dharmic ideas.