THIRD EYE: A Reminder To The Children Of Immortal Bliss!
On Jan 26, 2012
January 12th marked the 150th birthday of one of the most respected visionaries of modern India. As Jawaharlal Nehru once famously pointed out, he made the ordinary Indian feel proud about his prestigious past and at the same time, introduced him to modernity for solving life’s problems. He conceptualised the supreme knowledge of Vedanta into the language of the common man. He brought the attention of the world community to the inherent strength of Indian spirituality. He openly proclaimed his faith in the power of youth in molding the future of this great nation and addressed them as the children of immortal bliss. His words, “Come up, O lions, and shake off the delusion that you are sheep; you are souls immortal, spirits free, blest and eternal; ye are not matter, ye are not bodies; matter is your servant, not you the servant of matter," continue to resonate through generations. Perhaps that’s why even after his lifetime, Swami Vivekananda remains one of the most prominent youth icons of all generations! As we bow down in reverence to that great soul, let us try and stimulate a few of his thoughts, which still hold great value in giving directions to any aspiring nation builder.
During his lifetime, the Indian culture was going through a period of uncertainty. Foreign conquests and ideological hegemony often portrayed our traditions as lopsided and devoid of hope. These biased characterizations and the cultural dogmas that then existed, convinced the ordinary man to start looking up to the western tradition as superior. Perhaps the mindless imitations of west that we see today are only an aftermath of those paradigm shifts caused in mindsets during that period. Swami Vivekananda foresaw its consequences and began his campaign to popularise ancient Indian wisdom. He bridged the gap between science and religion and advocated the power of spirituality and culture devoid of superstition. He rekindled the fast losing hope on our tradition saying that a mighty tree produces a beautiful ripe fruit, which will fall on the ground and begin to decay and rot. Out of that decay will spring the roots of the future tree, perhaps mightier than the first one. He proclaimed that the period of decay through which our culture passed was all the more necessary because the India of the future had just begun to rise!
In one of his compelling addresseses, Swami Vivekananda explains that the glory of our nation is that we have never conquered any other nation. But he believed that India would conquer the world in the future through spirituality. More than a century has passed since his era. But today we see that many of the world-renowned universities have begun to include Indian culture as a part of their course curriculum. Vivekananda once pointed out that the whole of the Western world is on a volcano which may burst and go to pieces tomorrow because, “they have drunk deep of the cup of pleasure and found it vanity.” Hence sooner or later they would have no other choice other than to turn back to ancient Indian knowledge. Today we see that this process of conquest has begun to happen. It is a matter of great pride that societies, which once ridiculed our traditions have begun to look back upon us as the last resort to end their misery.
The greatness of Swami Vivekananda’s thoughts lies in the fact that he was never tied down by containment. Even while he preached about the power of our systems, he advocated that India could not afford to turn a blind eye towards the learnings from other countries. Perhaps this ignorance of outside knowledge led to domination of our land by foreign invaders for thousands of years. Today as we live in a crucial epoch of Indian history, these words of caution would serve us in good measure.
His insights on organisational power are quite fascinating because of the simplicity of its conception. Swami Vivekananda was assured of the fact that for India to have a promising future, accumulation of power and co-ordination of wills to a single focus would be required. He explains this concept in detail citing the example of the British rule in India. He says that compact little nations governing and ruling huge unwieldy nations is quite natural because it is easier for the little compact nations to bring their ideas into the same focus. On the other hand the bigger nations are born, as it were, a disorganized mob and hence struggle to combine and find a synergy.
Vivekananda believed that this integration could be achieved only by establishing social equality. An excerpt from one of his discourses says, “The problem of life is becoming deeper and broader every day as the world moves on. One atom in this universe cannot move without dragging the whole world along with it.” Hence the solution to any problem can only be achieved through a wider consensus. He advocated that equality in society should be brought about by raising the lower up to the level of the higher and not by bringing down the higher. He famously remarked that the duty of every aristocracy is to dig its own grave and the sooner it does so, the better! Because the more it delays, the more it will fester and death will be even worse. Perhaps the civil unrests that happened over the last one year in many totalitarian regimes will stand as testimonies to this statement!
His remedy for resolving these social differences was envisioned in a spiritual and secular educational system. Those concepts on education are farsighted inputs that still hold ground in our current educational scenario. He believed that total imitation of western education will only create a mass of negation which will be both lifeless and boneless. Hence he proclaimed that education is not the amount of information that is put into your brain which remains there undigested all your life, rather it is life-building, man-making, character-making assimilation of ideas. He reasserts the fact that if you have assimilated five ideas and made them your life and character, then you have more education than any man who has learnt by heart a whole library! In today’s society where success is measured by the prestige of your university, we tend to forget that the real purpose of education is character building.
Vivekananda was perhaps the most sincere advocate of the power within you! He preached that all power is within you and you can do anything and everything. He says, “According to Ramanuja, the soul contracts and expands at times, and according to Shankara, it comes under a delusion. Never mind these differences. All admit the truth that the power is there — potential or manifest it is there — and the sooner you believe that, the better for you.” He believed that the real strength of an individual is perseverance because glory stood at the doorstep of people who chose to face the problems rather than evading them.
Even after decades, his teachings continue to remain as lamp posts on our shores, giving direction and sense of purpose to today’s youth. For a man who placed unconditional faith in the power of youth to change this world, it is irony that his vision is being left unfulfilled. Perhaps we the youth of today owe much more to Swami Vivekananda than a mere National Youth Day celebration. If we can be the torchbearers of change then that will be the perfect tribute we can ever give this great soul. Swami Vivekananda always advocated for that greater purpose of life, which we should always try and attain. He said, “Life is short, but the soul is immortal and eternal, and one thing being certain, death, let us therefore take up a great ideal and give up our whole life to it.” Perhaps this is the only assurance that he expects from the children of immortal bliss! Let this message resound in our lives and motivate us to take up that higher cause for the wellbeing of humanity!
Rahul Riji Nair
The author is a budding social entrepreneur, business analyst, aspiring writer, freelance journalist and a knowledge seeker . He is the Founder Director of Save MY Ten Foundation, . Has been India’s delegate at the South Asian Youth Conference 2011 and is an active volunteer of the Art of Living Foundation.