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Swami Vivekananda: The Ultimate Youth Icon

Context:

National Youth Day, also recognized as Vivekananda Jayanti, is observed on 12 January, marking the birth anniversary of the Hindu monk Swami Vivekananda. The Government of India officially designated this day as National Youth Day in 1984, and the celebration has been an annual event in India since 1985. The theme for this year’s festival is “Viksit Bharat@ 2047: Yuva ke liye, yuva ke dwara.”

Relevance:

GS4- Ethics

  • Lessons from the Lives and Teachings of Great Leaders
  • Contributions of Moral Thinkers and Philosophers from India and World

Mains Question:

In the context National Youth Day, 2023, discuss the beliefs of Swami Vivekananda and his contributions towards the development of ethics in India and the world. (10 Marks, 150 Words).

Early Life of Swami Vivekananda:

  • Swami Vivekananda, the fearless evangelist, who was born as Narendranath in Calcutta (now Kolkata) on January 12, 1863, and lived only 39 years.
  • His transformation into a dynamic and resplendent personality was a result of unwavering devotion to his Guru, Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa.
  • Swami Vivekananda’s vibrant persona symbolized the socio-political-cultural-religious renaissance in 19th-century India.
  • His early struggles in job searches, marked by failures, made him skeptical and disdainful of the daily grind.
  • The visionary saint, Ramakrishna Paramahamsa, and his devoted disciple were united by a cardinal principle – service or seva to mankind.

Beliefs of Swami Vivekananda:

  • Swami Vivekananda, akin to Buddha, demonstrated a profound understanding of the human mind, addressing its complexities with a less visceral approach.
  • His boundless energy and dynamism left little time for rest, as he ignited the imagination of the public, especially the youth.
  • Influenced by characters from Hindu mythology like Sita, Savitri, and Damayanti, Swami Vivekananda admired their contributions to Indian womanhood, embodying Universal Motherhood.
  • An unwavering seva warrior well-versed in Vedanta, Swami Vivekananda encouraged monks to swap the Bhagavad Gita for football, emphasizing the need for robust minds and bodies.
  • Proficient in political ideologies such as socialism, anarchism, and nihilism, he played a role in shaping the Congress youth during the Swadeshi movement.
  • Jawaharlal Nehru acknowledged Swami’s impact on the evolving political landscape, drawing parallels between Vivekananda’s socialism and traditional Vedanta.
  • At the forefront of the country’s cultural and spiritual renaissance, Swami Vivekananda’s mind was troubled by prevailing poverty, the caste system, and societal norms.
  • He envisioned a contemporary India rising from the dwellings of the impoverished peasantry, cobblers, fishermen, and other marginalized sections.
  • A striking feature of his personality was his pristine humility, making him accessible to all. He never sought to appropriate the movement, firmly believing that after him, many more Vivekanandas would emerge to serve the motherland, each surpassing him.
  • Swami Vivekananda introduced Indian philosophies of Vedanta and Yoga to the Western world, playing a crucial role in raising interfaith awareness and bringing Hinduism to global prominence during the late 19th century.

Vedanta:

  • Rooted in the Upanishads and their interpretation.
  • Focused on the inquiry into ‘Brahman’ (ultimate reality), central to Upanishads.
  • Regarded the Veda as an unquestionable source of information.
  • Emphasized the path of knowledge (jnana) over sacrifice (karma).
  • Ultimate goal of knowledge was ‘Moksha,’ liberation from ‘samsara.’

Contributions of Swami Vivekananda:

  • Established the Ramakrishna Mission in 1897, dedicated to extensive educational and philanthropic work in India.
  • Represented India at the first Parliament of Religion in Chicago in 1893.

Core Values of Swami Vivekananda’s Philosophy:

Ethics:

  • Introduced a new theory of ethics based on the intrinsic purity and oneness of the Atman.
  • Ethics viewed as a code of conduct fostering good citizenship.
  • Emphasized purity as the inherent nature of individuals.
  • Advocated love and service for neighbors as a reflection of unity in the Supreme Spirit (Paramatma or Brahman).

Religion:

  • Interpreted religion as a universal experience of transcendent Reality, common to all humanity.
  • Liberated religion from superstitions, dogmatism, priestcraft, and intolerance.
  • Believed every religion provided a path to the eternal supreme, achievable by realizing one’s Atma as part of Paramatma.

Education:

  • Emphasized education for the regeneration of the nation.
  • Considered a nation advanced in proportion to the spread of education among the masses.
  • Advocated character-building and man-making education.
  • Stressed the importance of self-reliance and facing life’s challenges through education.

Rationality:

  • Embraced the methods and results of modern science.
  • Recognized intuition as a higher faculty than reason but insisted on explaining and systematizing truths derived from intuition.

Nationalism:

  • Rooted nationalism in Indian spirituality and morality.
  • Based on Humanism and Universalism.
  • Focused on freedom, equality, and spiritual integration through universal brotherhood.
  • Established motherland as the primary deity in the minds and hearts of the countrymen.

Youth:

  • Believed in the potential of determined youth to achieve the impossible.
  • Urged dedication to a cause for success and emphasized pursuing challenges with utmost dedication.
  • Advocated the development of both mental and physical strengths.

Conclusion:

Even though Swami Vivekananda lived in the 19th century, his message and life resonate more strongly in the present and are likely to remain highly relevant in the future. Individuals like Swami Vivekananda, despite their physical departure, continue to leave a lasting impact. Their influence, thoughts, and the initiatives they undertake gather momentum over the years, eventually achieving the fulfillment they envisioned.


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