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161st Birth Anniversary of Swami Vivekananda

Context:

January 12 this year marks the 161st birth anniversary of Swami Vivekananda, observed as National Youth Day.

Relevance:

GS I: History

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. About Swami Vivekananda
  2. Vedantic Humanism
  3. His teachings

About Swami Vivekananda

  • The Swami Vivekananda ji’s original name was Narendranath.
  • He was born on 12th January, 1863 at Kolkata , the Swamiji’s Jayanti i.e. birth anniversary is celebrated as the “National Youth Day“. 
  • Spiritual primacy is the central theme of Vivekananda’s teachings, through which human beings can succeed in every sphere of their lives.
  • Nevertheless, he urges people, especially the youth, to never let go of reason.
  • Instead, he premises his philosophy, ideas and life work on the premise of reason.
  • The three instruments of knowledge that he propounded are instincts, reason, and inspiration.

Vedantic Humanism

  • Swami Vivekananda believed that there is only one Self in the universe. There is only one Existence. He saw the entire universe as a manifestation of the absolute One.
  • On the coexistence of various faiths, he believed religious acceptance, and not tolerance was important. He claimed that tolerance comes out of a superiority complex.
  • For Vivekananda, the most desirable path for self-realisation was the selfless service of man.
  • Some ways through which the essential unity of all human beings can be realised are unconditional love for all, judicious detachment, and expansion of self through service of fellow humans despite any sectarian difference, he believed.
  • He was an exponent of vedantic humanism.
  • He did not propagate a world-negating concept of spirituality, rather he said that each and every chore of your life should be done with divinity.
  • He articulated that external rituals of religion are of secondary importance but the spiritual essence of a religion should be preserved and accepted.

His teachings

Divinity within ourselves
  • “Infinite power is in the soul of man, whether he knows it or not. Its manifestation is only a question of being conscious of it. With the full consciousness of his infinite power and wisdom, the giant will rise to his feet.”
  • Swami Vivekananda asserted that each soul is potentially divine.
  • The goal of human beings should be to manifest this divinity within, which can be done by controlling nature, external and internal.
Karma Yoga
  • Swami Vivekananda, emphasising the importance of work, said that God can be attained through work.
  • He said that in every society there are people whose minds cannot be concentrated on the plane of thought alone.
  • He stressed that a lot of people fritter away a great amount of their energies because they are oblivious to the secret of work. The key to this secret lies in Karma Yoga, as it teaches how to employ to the maximum advantage all our energies in our work.
  • Karma-Yoga teaches how to work for work’s sake, unattached to the results.
  • A Karma Yogin works out of her nature as she feels it is the right thing for her to do and that is the sole objective of her work. “Whatever you do, let that be your worship for the time being,” he said.
Bhakti Yoga
  • Bhakti Yoga teaches that love is a vital element of all human beings.
  • It teaches how to love bereft of any ulterior motives.
  •  “All love is expansion, all selfishness is contraction. Love is therefore the only law of life. He who loves lives, he who is selfish is dying,” said Swami Vivekananda.
Raja Yoga
  • Raja Yoga opens up the psychological way to union with God.
  • This Yoga teaches that in order to acquire knowledge, we’d have to use a method called concentration.
  • Swami Vivekananda, to explain this Yoga, gives an example of a chemist who works in her laboratory, concentrating all the powers of her mind, bringing them into one focus, and throwing them onto the elements; the elements stand analysed and thus her knowledge comes.
  • “The more this power of concentration, the more knowledge is acquired. The stronger the power of concentration, the better will that thing be done.”
Faith in oneself
  • He emphasises that the ideal of faith in ourselves is of the greatest help to us as whatever “you think, that you will be. If you think yourselves weak, weak you will be; if you think yourselves strong, strong you will be.”
  • One has to know that all knowledge, power, purity, and freedom are in oneself.
  • Swami Vivekanand also urges people to not shy away from taking responsibility for their actions.
  • “We, as Vedantists, know for certain that there is no power in the universe to injure us unless we first injure ourselves. Let us blame none, let us blame our own karma. The effect is here and the cause is here too. We are to blame. Stand up, be bold, and take the blame on your own shoulders.”

Source: Indian Express


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