Vivekananda Jayanti is the festival for us to be celebrated at the grandest scale in Kendra. Since few years we celebrate this as the culmination of Samartha Bharat Parva which is from 25 December - the day Swami Vivekananda meditated on the Rock - till 12 January, the birth anniversary of Swami Vivekananda. As we prepare ourselves to commemorate 50 years of Vivekananda Rock Memorial in 2020 and 50 years of Vivekananda Kendra in 2022, we have to make this festival purposeful and grand so that it prepares us for the celebration.
Swami Vivekananda preached and talked all the time about ‘Strength’ as the essence of his message. Swami Vivekananda Jayanti festival should therefore be celebrated in such a way that the society feels strengthened because of the awakening of its Self-confidence. This is what Swami Vivekananda did in his life for India. His participation in the Parliament of Religions at Chicago and the enormous respect for Vedanta, which he aroused in the West, awakened the self-confidence of our country. India realized that she had a message to deliver to the world, and a destiny to fulfill for which she has to prepare and equip herself.
Swami Vivekananda was the first person who went to the West and presented India from the Indian perspective. When he did it, he could change the very point of reference for the West to evaluate us. The West that derided India as a backward and Jungli country (incidentally, in India we do not associate Jungle with backwardness but with spirituality and contemplation as Aranyakas, a part of Veda; Vanaprasthashram; and the abode of Rishis in the forest indicate) suddenly woke up to the fact of her life-giving wisdom. After Swamiji’s participation in the Parliament of Religions in 1893 at Chicago, the leading newspaper ‘The New York Herald’ wrote. “He is undoubtedly the greatest figure in the Parliament of Religions. After hearing him we feel how foolish it is to send missionaries to this learned nation.” (The Life – II)
Till then, we were only told about how uncivilized we were, but it was Swami Vivekananda who told us how great India had been in the past. He asked us to build on our strength. He made us aware that we belong to a country, which is unique, with a great past and a still greater future awaiting her. He made us aware of India’s contribution to the world. The debt, which the world owes to our Motherland, is immense. He said: ‘As I look back upon the history of my country, I do not find in the whole world another country which has done quite so much for the improvement of the human mind. Therefore, I have no words of condemnation for my nation. I tell them, “you have done well; only try to do better..” (C.W.III.195)
‘The same holds good with respect to sciences. India has given to antiquity the earliest scientific physicians, and, according to Sir William Hunter, she has even contributed to modern medical science by the discovery of various chemicals and by teaching you how to reform mis-shapen ears and noses. Even more it has done in mathematics, for algebra, geometry, astronomy, and the triumph of modern science-mixed mathematics-were all invented in India, just so much as the ten numerals, the very cornerstone of all present civilization, were discovered in India, and are in reality, Sanskrit words.
‘In philosophy we are even now head and shoulders above any other nation, as Schopenhauer, the great German philosopher has confessed. In music India gave the world her system of notation, with the seven cardinal notes and the diatonic scale….In philology, our Sanskrit language is now universally acknowledged to be the foundation of all European languages…(C.W.II.511-512)
‘In literature, our epics and poems and dramas rank as high as those of any language; our ‘Shaguntala (Shakuntala) was summarized by Germany’s greatest poet, as ‘heaven and earth united.’ India has given to the world the fables of Aesop, which were copied by Aesop from an old Sanskrit book; it has given the Arabian Nights, yes, even the story of Cinderella and the Bean Stalks. In manufacture, India was the first to make cotton and purple (dye), it was proficient in all works of jewellery, and the very word sugar as well as the article itself, is the product of India. Lastly she has invented the game of chess and the cards and the dice. So great in fact, was the superiority of India in every respect that it drew to her borders the hungry cohorts of Europe, and thereby indirectly brought about the discovery of America. (C.W.III.511-512)
‘And I challenge anybody to show one single period of her national life when India was lacking in spiritual giants, capable of moving the world. But her work is spiritual, and that cannot be done with blasts of war-trumpets or the march of cohorts. Her influence has fallen upon the world like that of the gentle dew, unheard and scarcely marked, yet bringing into bloom the fairest flowers of the earth’ (C.W.IV.315). Thus he elaborately dealt with the achievements of India in the past. But he was not a prisoner of the past. He believed that the future of India is going to be more glorious than the past as she has a mission to accomplish. He 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 reason d’être of her very existence – the spiritualization of the human race.” (C.W.IV.314-315)
The confidence generated due to the message of Swami Vivekananda resulted in the numerous social, national and religious and spiritual movements. Samartha Bharat Parva is to be celebrated by organizing exhibitions, camps, and lectures for the college youth to take this message of inherent strength and the purpose of India to them. This confidence in turn will motivate them to work in an organised way for the upliftment of India. So the message that goes through the whole program of Samartha Bharat Parva culminating in the celebrations of Swami Vivekananda Jayanti should be the one of India’s destiny and the task we have to do for it. The burning love that Swami Vivekananda had for this motherland should be the central theme of the celebration. The awakening of the confidence and pride in India can be its main thrust. When one is proud of one’s motherland and conscious of the great future then surely a great power would get generated. With such efforts by all the mission of India to evolve an Ideal Social Order for the good of the world can be achieved.
Message of Swami Vivekananda in short was - Wake up Bharat to your inner strength and enlighten the world in the path of spirituality. He had said in his lecture “The Mission of Vedanta”, “There are times in the history of a man's life, nay, in the history of the lives of nations, when a sort of world - weariness becomes painfully predominant. It seems that such a tide of world - weariness has come upon the Western world. There, too, they have their thinkers, great men; and they are already finding out that this race after gold and power is all vanity of vanities; many, nay, most of the cultured men and women there, are already weary of this competition, this struggle, this brutality of their commercial civilisation, and they are looking forward towards something better. There is a class which still clings on to political and social changes as the only panacea for the evils in Europe, but among the great thinkers there, other ideals are growing. They have found out that no amount of political or social manipulation of human conditions can cure the evils of life. It is a change of the soul itself for the better that alone will cure the evils of life. No amount of force, or government, or legislative cruelty will change the conditions of a race, but it is spiritual culture and ethical culture alone that can change wrong racial tendencies for the better. Thus these races of the West are eager for some new thought, for some new philosophy… The thoughtful men of the West find in our ancient philosophy, especially in the Vedanta, the new impulse of thought they are seeking, the very spiritual food and drink for which they are hungering and thirsting. And it is no wonder that this is so.”
Swami Vivekananda thus exhorted India, “Up India! Conquer the world with your spirituality!” To this task Swami Vivekananda wanted all to create the centers all over the country where Omkar would be enshrined. It means we have to steadily hasten to increase number of our branches. Vivekananda Jayanti is a good occasion to reach out to many new persons and expand our work. The focus should be by associating how many new persons we celebrate Vivekananda Jayanti every year. If only same team of Karyakartas is functioning then the work would not expand. Efforts should be taken to have the large media coverage for the function. Special supplements in the newspapers on Swami Vivekananda and his life-giving message to our motherland could also be attempted. Swami Vivekananda is a magical word. It creates resonance of love for India in every Indian heart. His words have a great transforming power whereby youth can be helped to shape the future of India. Therefore, the celebration of Swami Vivekananda Jayanti should become an occasion when the name and message of Swamiji is taken to the maximum number of people and good number of new samparkit Karyakarta are motivated to become part of organizing team in the celebration.
The program also should be such that it captivates the minds of all those who attend it. Swami Vivekananda was confident about the innate capacity of the youth to respond to the heroic call. He said, “My faith is in the younger generation, modern generation, out of them will come my workers. They will work out the whole problems like lions. I have formulated the idea and have given my life to it. If I do not achieve success, some better one will come after me to work it out, and I shall be content to struggle” (C.W.V.223). Therefore, Swami Vivekananda Jayanti is declared by the Government of India as the National Youth Day. That helps us also to go to as many colleges as possible. We can train teams of our youth karyakartas with various programs on Swami Vivekananda like – Geet, pathanatya, a short speech, recitation of his inspiring quotations, quiz etc. These teams can go to various colleges for celebrating the Swami Vivekananda Jayanti as a National Youth Day. Thus, apart from a grand public program that we should strive for we can also have the programs in various colleges too, taking the name and message of Swami Vivekananda to as many as possible.
If it is possible, the branch centers can think of about the following way of celebrating Samartha Bharat Parva and Vivekananda Jayanti keeping in mind the coming celebrations. We know that Vivekananda Rock Memorial built at mid-sea Rock at Kanyakumari is the result of the excellent and focused samparka that Eknathji undertook cutting across all differences and diversities. That is how Eknathji experienced that beyond all regional, political, sectarian colours the love and respect for Swami Vivekananda was common ground where all came together and saw to it that a Grand Memorial for Swami Vivekananda got built on the mid-sea rock at Kanyakumari. Thus, when we look forward to celebrate the 50 years of Vivekananda Rock Memorial we too can reach out to as many people as possible. Next year is the preparation for wide Samparka Abhiyan that we would take up for the commemoration of 50 years of Vivekananda Rock Memorial. From that point of view, it can be thought of as to how to organize the celebration of Samartha Bharat Parva so that we get in contact with persons from different fields this year. And then with the help of them we can make lists of Samparka to be done in your region, in various segments of society, at various levels like all India level, pranta level, vibhag level and nagar level.
Secondly, the celebration of 50 years of Vivekananda Kendra also would be more an organizational celebration by consolidating and expanding our work. Thus, each Nagar Sthan and Karyasthan should develop one more branch of Kendra each with the help of Vibhag Samiti and Pranta Samiti. Already many branches have decided in which place they would develop one more branch of Kendra. The Vivekananda Samiti is a good occasion for contacting the people and constituting a Vivekananda Jayanti Samiti in that place only for the celebration of Vivekananda Jayanti. If the Samartha Bharat Parva or Vivekananda Jayanti can be organized in a good way a team that would emerge, can be involved in Kendra Varga. For Kendra Varga at least for initial 10-15 times a Karyakarta from the existing branch goes then gradually a team of Karyakartas can be created there and then other utsavas or shibirs can be thought of gradually leading to regular work. Thus, starting with this year celebration of Samartha Bharat Parva and Vivekananda Jayanti we can initiate the celebration of 50 years of Vivekananda Rock Memorial and Vivekananda Kendra.
Nivedita Raghunath Bhide