Archive for the Category »6) The Story of Vivekananda «

(30) Swamiji’s Message to the World

Swamiji’s Message to the World

Swamiji very often used the word ‘Vedanta’, when he was talking about spiritual things. He used this word because he thought it was one which everyone in the whole world could use without giving up his own religious ideas.

The world is full of many different kinds of people, with many different ideas. Swamiji used the word ‘Vedanta’ to provide a common meeting ground for them all, whatever their ideas might be.

Vedanta, as Swamiji used it, means that from the spiritual standpoint the world is one. There is one Spirit or Ground, and everything that exists in the universe is an expression of that one Spirit. There is nothing other than that one Spirit, nothing separate from it. Everything has its existence within that one Spirit.

This means that if one person seeks God, another seeks Good, another seeks Beauty, another seeks scientific truth, another seeks the perfect society, and another seeks happiness, and so on and on— they are all seeking the same thing, although they express it in different ways. Sri Ramakrishna expressed the same idea very simply. He said that the word for ‘water’ varied from language to language. Nevertheless, water was the same everywhere in the world.

The idea that everything in the universe exists within one universal Spirit is really a very simple idea, and it is an idea that may be found all over the world, in ancient times and in modern times. In India, this idea was taught very clearly and in great detail in the Upanishads. There it was called ‘the science of the Spirit’, because people studied it and experimented with it, just as modern people study and experiment with the physical sciences.

Then came Sri Ramakrishna, and he took up this idea and experimented with it in a new way. He himself adopted all the different modes of thought he could find. He took them up, one by one, and practised them to see what they felt like, and to see where they would lead. What he proved by his experiments was that whoever sincerely followed any path would be led ultimately to that one Spirit of the universe, the Ground of all existence. It was true for all people, no matter what religion they followed, or even if they had no religion.

Swamiji, in his turn, took this idea and applied it to the modern world. He said that in particular it must be applied in modern western countries and in modern India. Both, he said, would have to put this idea into practice, but in different ways.

Western people had become more and more interested in science and the application of science to everyday life. But all their study was based on the idea that man was separate from nature, and that men were separate from each other. They were seeking truth, but they were seeking it in physical things. By giving them the idea of Vedanta, Swamiji showed them that they would understand the universe and themselves only when they perceived everything in the light of one basic spiritual unity.

Today, western scientists have come to see that men are not separate from nature, that things which appear to be separate from each other are not really so. Gradually, through the path of science, western people are working out the truth of Vedanta.

To India, Swamiji spoke in a different way. India had to put theory into practice. In theory, Indians knew that everything that existed was an expression of one Spirit, yet they did not carry this idea to its logical conclusion in everyday life. The logical conclusion would be that every aspect of life could serve as a means of reaching that one Spirit. Yet Indians had, unlike in their past, forgotten to harmonize material values with their spiritual heritage. They had lost all enthusiasm for everyday life.

Now the time had come, Swamiji told them, when they must imbibe from the West the spirit of enthusiasm and the desire to improve themselves. They must also learn science and technology from the West and build India up into a modern nation. But all this they must do only on the basis of Vedanta. Although Vedanta was a universal truth, of equal importance to all people, it was also India’s own national ideal, and India must therefore practise it and teach it to others.

Swamiji foresaw the great interchange between East and West that is taking place at the present time. This interchange would lead to a complete world civilization. Civilization, he said, would only be complete in the world when India gave to the world the marvels of spiritual things, and, in exchange, received from the world the marvels of modern science.

So if we want to sum up Swamiji’s teachings in a few words, it is the message of world civilization based on Vedanta.

Category: 6) The Story of Vivekananda  Comments off

(29) India’s Awakening

India’s Awakening

It was in 1897 that Swamiji told the people: ‘For the next fifty years let Mother India be your God. Serve your country as you would serve God, and India will awaken!’

Not long after that, men and women sacrificed their homes, their wealth, and even their lives for their country’s freedom.

From 1897 to 1947 is exactly fifty years. Fifty years after Swamiji spoke those words, India achieved independence from British rule. It was the first great step of the awakening Swamiji had described. Without political independence the national awakening could not come, for freedom is essential to growth and development.

Swamiji said that political ideals and political leaders have no real power in India; nor have social ideals or commercial ideals. The only ideal that has real and lasting power in India is the ideal that is based on inner strength. It is a spiritual ideal that says that the soul of man is more powerful than anything else. That is India’s national ideal, and when she puts this ideal into practice in her daily life, she will be strong and powerful.

If it is true that the soul of man is more powerful than anything else, then this ideal is true for all people everywhere. So Swamiji said that Indians should now go out into the world and mix with other nations and tell them about this great ideal.

When Indians do that, then will come the awakening of India that Swamiji spoke about. Using the great power that lies in the soul of men, India will spread peacefully throughout the world the equality and justice and sharing of benefits that so many people are now fighting for.

Category: 6) The Story of Vivekananda  Comments off