January is an auspicious and significant month for many people in the world. With the starting of 1 January, English New year starts. Many Orthodox Christians celebrate Christmas on 7 January as they believe date works to the Julian calendar that pre-dates the Gregorian calendar (when I was in Eritrea, Africa observed the Orthodox Christians celebrate Christmas on 7 January). Anyway, in India Makara Sankranti, Magh Bihu, Lohri, Thai Pongol etc., are celebrated in this month and on 26 January our country became Republic. In addition, two great souls were born in January in our country – Swami Vivekananda and Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose.
Swami Vivekananda was born on 12 January 1863 in Kolkata then Calcutta. His real name in school / college was Narendranath Dutta and pet name was “Biley”. By this (“Biley”) name parents used to call him. Although he is considered a key personality in introduction of Vedanta philosophy and Yoga to Western countries mainly in USA and Europe but humanity was his only consideration. Swami Vivekananda was intelligent since childhood. He was the only student to have received first division marks in Presidency College entrance examination. He was a positive and broad-minded person with the feeling for all human beings irrespective of caste, creed and religion. To get an in-depth idea about his philosophy few lines from his speeches are quoted here, “All power is within you, you can do anything and everything. Believe in that; do not believe that you are weak. You can do anything and everything, without even the guidance of any one. Stand up and express the divinity within you. Arise, Awake, and Sleep no more. Within each of you there is the power to remove all wants and all miseries. Believe in this, and that power will be manifested”.
Love and affection towards others is reflected from his saying, “All expansion is life, and all contraction is death. All love is expansion, all selfishness is contraction. Love is therefore the only law of life”. His positive feeling towards different religious is realized by this discourse, “The Christian is not to become a Hindu or a Buddhist, nor a Hindu or a Buddhist to become a Christian. But each must assimilate the spirit of the others and yet preserve his individuality and grow according to his own law of growth”. He further told, “Feel like Christ, you will be a Christ; feel like Buddha and you will be a Buddha. It is feeling that is the life, the strength, the vitality, without which no amount of intellectual activity can reach God.” Thus one can easily understand Swami Vivekananda’s feeling towards human beings.
He was great believer of welfare of humanity and hard work without selfish attitude. In his words, “It is a tremendous error to feel helpless. Do not seek help from anyone. We are our won help. If we cannot help ourselves, there is none to help us. The moment you fear, you are nobody. It is fear that is the great cause of misery in the world”. His patriotic fervour can be understood through this line, “The soil of India is my highest heaven, the good of India is my good and repeat and pray day and night…….O Thou Mother of Strength, take my weakness, take my unmanliness and make me a man!”
Swami Vivekananda was always in favour of development for all. In fact today’s Inclusive Growth concept may be termed as his vision. His beautiful message in this regard, “In India there are two great evils, trampling on the women and grinding the poor through caste restrictions.” “…..forget not – the ignorant, the poor, the illiterate, the cobbler, the sweeper, are thy flesh and blood, thy brothers. Thou brave one, be bold, take courage, be proud that thou art an Indian and proudly proclaim – ‘I am an Indian – every Indian is my brother’, Say, The ignorant Indian, the poor and destitute Indian, the Brahmin Indian, the pariah Indian, is my brother. ……..Our only work is to arouse this knowledge in our fellow-beings. We see that they too are the same pure self. Only they do not know it; we must help them to rouse up their infinite nature”.
Our former Prime Minister Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru had high regards for him. This one line of Nehruji’s saying reflects fully about Swami Vivekananda, “I think that our younger generation will take advantage of his fountain of wisdom, spirit and fire that flows through Swami Vivekananda”.
Although, Vivekananda passed away on 4th July 1902 but no Indian can forget him as his thought-provoking lecture in Chicago in 1893 at the Parliament of the World’s Religions conquered heart of the millions of the people of the World. The people of the world could get an in-depth idea about Hindu philosophy which earlier many of them had no knowledge or superficial knowledge.
Dr. Shankar Chatterjee
Former Professor& Head (CPME)
NIRD &PR (Govt. of India),