What are the various places you have visited? What are your observations?
Earlier I visited America, Europe, and South East Asia. Recently I visited Switzerland, Germany and Rome.
I have observed during my stay in Europe and America, and in South East Asia that neatness and cleanliness is a way of life. People know how to maintain their cities. In Switzerland, I particularly noticed that there is not even a piece of paper or plastic on the street or anywhere. The conveniences – tram, bus, train – are so well maintained, neat and clean.
From their very childhood, people in these countries develop a kind of civic sense.
This civic sense is lacking in India.
In India, on a boat in Kashmir, I saw an Indian tourist was throwing some eatable and wrappers in a public space. A foreigner was there. He held the hand of the Indian tourist and asked him – why are you throwing these things here?! You can keep it with you and put it in a waste basket later.
I have often wondered how they maintain everything neat & clean?
The first reason seems to be the “population size”. India is so thickly populated, that it is not possible to maintain anything properly. The population of Switzerland is 8 million people, whereas Mumbai’s population alone is more than double of that!
The second reason is “love for one’s country”. In Europe, America, and in other Western countries – people are always conscious that their country should develop. How can I contribute to my country? How to preserve, protect and develop our nation? They try to answer these questions in different ways.
In India, this love for country and this sense of sacrifice and service to nation is not adequate and needs to be developed.
You have spoken of their material achievements. What do you think of the state of spirituality in these countries?
I must say that India is a land of spirituality and Swamiji has also praised India. But, Western people are also spiritual in their own way.
Spirituality doesn’t only mean that we go to the temple and make pranams to the deity and offer something. Spirituality is also to develop sterling human qualities. For example, Western people have qualities like punctuality, sincerity, love for the country, and hard work in abundance. They love their country, respect rules and regulations, abide by the law of the country and care about national welfare.
So, in one way, they are spiritual. A kind of transparency, accountability and credibility is there, in individuals as well as collectives.
Once I asked one of our Swamis in Germany: “what about the people’s impression about India? What do they think about India?” He replied: “They say, yes, India is a good country, but a very poorly managed country. There are resources. But the country is so poorly managed that you won’t find discipline anywhere. Everywhere you will find indiscipline and unrest!”
So at this level, we may have something to learn from the West.
Having said all this, it is still true that Western countries are extremely materialistic.
What about the Ramakrishna Vivekananda movement? What is the level of understanding over there?
In Western countries not too many people know the philosophy of Sri Ramakrishna or Vivekananda.
But at the intellectual level, some people do appreciate and understand the rich and ancient culture of the Indian civilization. They know about some spiritual leaders from India – particularly Swami Vivekananda. So you will find some influences in some intellectual circles.
You may raise the question that Swamiji went to the West and delivered lectures, influenced the people. So what is the effect after 100 years? How are Swamiji’s ideas and philosophies influencing the people there?
My answer is, it is percolating slowly and steadily.
But those who do know about them, what is their response?
My observation is that whenever Western people take up or accept anything, they pursue it very sincerely. Of course, some people come to the Vedanta Center, and do it seriously for some time – say 2-3 years – and then leave. But those who do pursue it, practice it very sincerely. I should say, that some of them pursue and practice Vedanta more sincerely than Indians. However, their number is very few.
But, number or quantity of devotees is not everything. Quality of spiritual aspirant is also very essential.
In Switzerland, I was giving a talk to an audience of 20-30 people. I mentioned the same point: If even one person can imbibe Swamiji’s ideas or the Indian philosophy to some extent, it is more than enough. If you can transform one person, that is enough.
This spiritual movement is not like any other movement. Outwardly you won’t see many changes. But it works slowly and steadily. Swamiji has said that these spiritual ideas work like dew drops. When dew drops fall on the flower, they help the flower to blossom. But these dew-drops are unheard of and unseen. Very quietly, without anybody noticing them, they work, influence. This spiritual movement spreads slowly.
Do you see Swami Vivekananda’s as relevant to the West?
His message is very much relevant to the West. When Swamiji was in the West he said:
Yes, you are developing, progressing in science and technology. You also have material prosperity – there is no doubt about it. But you must maintain a balance and equilibrium in your life. To maintain that balance, there must be a flavor of spirituality. If it continues like this for long – with only material prosperity and sensual enjoyment – then the materialistic civilization of the West will crumble into pieces.
So along with material prosperity and wellbeing, spirituality must be practiced. Both should go hand in hand. Only then any culture and civilization can survive and sustain.
You will find that many civilizations came and went, but Indian civilization still continues. Why is that so? Because the foundation of Indian culture and civilization is based on spiritual values.
It is spirituality that is the foundation of a culture and civilization that has an unbroken history for several thousand years.
Swami Sarvalokananda, at the Bhakta Sammelan at Ramakrishna Mission, New Delhi – 20th September, 2015.
Excerpts from the talk:
“When one ganja smoker meets another ganja smoker, he is very happy. Similarly, when one devotee meets another devotee, he is very happy.”
“Bhakti brings about transformation in things. When Bhakti enters water, it becomes Charanamrit. When bhakti enters food, it becomes Prasada. When Bhakti enters music, it becomes Bhajan and Kirtan. When Bhakti enters flowers, they become Pushpanjali! Similarly, when Bhakti enters a human being, he/ she becomes a devotee.”
Now-a-days women’s leadership and empowerment are very hot topics.
Swamiji emphasized that women’s status should be elevated The great spiritual leader Swami Vivekananda traveled the length and breadth of India as a wandering monk to know about India, its culture, tradition, religion, material, spiritual growth and prosperity.
Swamiji visualized three India – i.e., past India, present India, and future India. Swamiji was very much proud that the past India was very great in all fields – in the field of science, technology, medicine, engineering, architecture, dance, drama, music, astrology & astronomy, so on and so forth!
But Swamiji was very pained to see the degradation of present India in those days. He discovered the cause of the downfall of India. Why had India degraded so much when it was so great in the past? The main cause is neglect of women. In those days women were oppressed, tortured, suppressed and they used to remain confined to the four walls of the house. No opportunity was given to them to manifest their potential. Women were just there for housekeeping work!
Swamiji further said that if any country or race or society has to rise materially and spiritually, then men and women have to be elevated. In this context he gave a wonderful example – that a bird cannot fly on one wing. A bird needs two wings to fly smoothly and effectively. Similarly, a nation, race or society must have two wings. These are men and women.
That is why Swamiji put emphasis that first, women are to be elevated. They must be given the opportunity. They must come forward in all fields.
Today, the ball is rolling in the right direction.. All of you know that, particularly India has been a patriarchal or male dominated society. That is why women could not come up to that level to do something for the society/ nation. But the awareness has now come.
If you see history you will see that, particularly in the West, the women’s liberation movement started long back. A kind of awareness has come now that equal rights to be given to women. This ball has started rolling and has gained momentum in the right direction. Women are now coming forward in all fields – in the field of administration, governance, religion, and all other fields. In fact, now a days girls are doing better in schools, colleges and university – even the IITs than the boys!
Both – external and internal empowerment are necessary Empowerment that we talk about has two aspects: one, external empowerment and other is internal empowerment.
What is external empowerment? This is about money, name, fame, power, position etc. Beyond this, internal empowerment is also very necessary. Internal empowerment means transparency, accountability, magnanimity, and so forth.
These two aspects of empowerment are both essential. If a person is internally empowered, then he or she can face any problem or challenge. We have seen that a person may be externally empowered – having lots of degrees, holding good position of power, etc. but unable to face problems or challenges since (s)he is not internally empowered. So this is also very essential.
So we have to put an emphasis on both aspects.
According to Swamiji, a leader is the servant of servants.. We talk about effective leadership. You will be heartened to know that women are coming forward in leading the country, society, institutions, corporates, and so forth. But we have to see if there is an effective leadership.
Here comes the great spiritual leader Swami Vivekananda he said:
“Can a leader be made brothers? A leader is born. Do you understand? And it is very difficult to take on the role of a leader. One must be DasasyaDasa – the servant of servants, and must accommodate a thousand minds. There must not be a shade of jealousy or selfishness. Then you are a true leader.”
If a nation or a person wants to be great, then there are three things which are very essential. Swamiji said that “Conviction in the power of goodness, the absence of jealousy and suspicion, and helping all who are trying to do good and be good.” This is effective leadership or servant leadership.
Not only that, Swamiji once said How can one be a true leader? Quoting Guru Nanakji he said “Sirdar toh Sardar” – i.e., one who sacrifices one’s head is the leader. It doesn’t mean giving up your head. It means you have to give up the ego – particularly selfishness. Then you can be a true leader.
So Swamiji said along with these qualities one has to become humble, egoless, and unselfish.
Swamiji gave a lot of emphasis on unselfishness. He once said that unselfishness is God, and it is the test of spirituality and religion. It is therefore very important in everything – whether you are a doctor, a chartered accountant, an MBA or an administrator. Be unselfish. This is the great message of Swami Vivekananda, particularly to the modern youth.
The social ill of harassment can be eliminated only through a change in mindset
Now-a-days another worrying issue has come up – sexual harassment. Unfortunately, every day we find this in the news! That is why legislations have been passed, laws are framed. In spite of all this, brutality on women is increasing day by day.
Only by enacting laws or passing legislations, this problem will not be solved. How can it be reduced and eliminated? One has to change the tendency, attitude, and mindset towards women. On the other hand, women have to change the tendency, attitude and mindset towards men. How you look at the things is very important. That is why women should not be looked upon as an object of enjoyment. They should be looked upon with all respect and dignity – as a mother or sister. This is the age-old traditional culture of India.
Dear friends, people need to change their mindset, attitude, and tendency towards women. Only then this burning problem will be solved, not otherwise!
I would like to conclude by quoting the Vedic prayer –सर्वेभवन्तुसुखिनःसर्वेसन्तुनिरामया– Let all be happy, let all be healthy.
Desires are the barriers to a meaningful, complete, peaceful & happy life How to lead meaningful, complete, peaceful, happy life? Are we really leading this complete, peaceful, meaningful, and happy life, or not?
Science and technology has given us comfort. Our lifestyle has become very easy and comfortable. And most of us have basic amenities of life – “कपड़ा रोटी मकान सबके पास है”. However, the question is whether we are happy? And whether we have peace of mind?
If you ask people who do have basic amenities of life, you won’t get a direct answer – that he or she is happy or peaceful. Why it is so?
Because our unending desires make our life miserable and unhappy. We are not satisfied with what we have. That is the problem. That is why our life is not complete.
Most of us have some mental suffering and misery. Lord Buddha left everything home and hearth did sadhana and discovered that the desire is the root cause of all misery and suffering. He said –दुक्खम्दुक्खम्सर्वमदुक्खम् (dhukkham dhukkham sarvam dhukkham).
If you just see deeply you will find the whole world is nothing but dhukkha, dhukkha, and dhukkha. In the life of a human being, sukkah (real happiness) is very little. All the time you find dhukkha – problem, challenges.
I will tell you one incident from the Bhagavatam:
Raja Yayati had a big kingdom, and his nature was to just enjoy. At the end of his life he realized, “Many of my desires are unfulfilled. What do I do? After few years I will go away. I may die”.
So he went to his younger son and asked – “You see, my desires were not fulfilled. Can you give your youth to me so another more life I may enjoy, I can satisfy all my desires.” The younger son immediately became ready, and he transferred his youth to his father, and King Yayati again became young.
Again at the end of this life, after two births, many desires remain unfulfilled. Then Raja Yayati realizes that all desires cannot be fulfilled. Desires are endless, unending. When ghee or oil is poured on fire it will not extinguish. It will go on increasing. Desires are also like that.
In the Bhagavad Gita it is mentioned about what happens when a person becomes frustrated. When desire is not fulfilled then it takes form of frustration, the frustration to anger, then anger leads to buddhi naasha – which means your buddhi will be destroyed – your buddhi will not function, you cannot discriminate between what is good and what is bad! So finally this frustration leads to a disaster in a person’s life.
How to check this desire: seek not avoid not! Yes, human being must have desire, but one must have a control over desires. If one does not have control over the desires then life will become miserable. So it is important that you must follow this – seek not, avoid not.
What is that seek not, avoid not?
When you are working, money, name, fame, power etc. are coming in. Let them come, accept them, don’t avoid them, but, if you go to seek them or hanker for them, then there is a problem. I should get this, I should get that, if this kind of hankering is there you will not feel happy. Your life will become very miserable.
In human life, there should be some desire just to maintain our livelihood. To lead a meaningful life, peaceful life, happy life – how much you want? You want a good car or transportation, you must have good flat – a 2 or 3bhk to live in, and to maintain your body you must get nutritious food, and you have to earn some money to give good education to your children. This much you want, this much you can say is the basic necessity of life. But people go on wanting, I want this, I want that – if it is 3 bhk then 4, 4 then 5…and it goes on like this. So then your life becomes very miserable.
The Goal of Human Life is to Realize God
In this context I would like to tell you one incident.
Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa used to be invited by many devotees to their houses. Once he went to the house of Adhar Sen. He was a deputy magistrate, an influential person, and a devotee of Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa.
Bankim Chandra Chatterjee, a friend of Adhar Sen was also invited. Bankim Chandra Chatterjee was the composer of Vande Mataram, a deputy magistrate, and Sahitya Samrat – a great literary personality. Sri Ramakrishna started talking with Bankim Chandra Chatterjee and asked him, “Bankim babu, what is the goal of human life?” Like ordinary human being, he said, “Oh, goal of human life is to eat, drink, and be merry”. Sri Ramakrishna was infuriated by the reply and said, “What is this? You are a great man, you are the Sahitya Samrat, and you are saying that the goal of human life is to eat, drink and be merry? How can it be? Wretched fellow!”, he scolded him. Imagine scolding Bamkin Chandra Chatterjee, a great personality of those days! Bankim Chandra Chatterjee simply kept quiet.
Then Sri Ramakrishna said, “Look, the goal of human life cannot be to drink and be merry. This is the goal of animals, and not humans. The goal of human life is to realize God.”
Realization of God is to know oneself What is realization of God? Many people talk about realization, about becoming spiritual, and all sorts of things. Realization of God is nothing but to know yourself.
Most of us do not know about ourselves. What you know is very little about yourself. Who are you, from where you have come, what is your duty, what is the goal of your life? Most of the people do not have the answers to these questions.
The Indian philosophy states that there are two kinds of existence, of all beings, whether living or non-living beings – physical existence and spiritual existence.
What is our physical existence? Our physical existence is the body-mind complex.
There is another dimension of existence –the spiritual existence. You cannot see it. You have to realize it. It says that you are not tiny, little physical body, body-mind complex. You are ‘That’.
What is ‘That’? In all our scriptures, ‘That’ means ‘Brahman/Atman’ – you are infinite-Ananta.
The test of spirituality is nothing but unselfishness
There is this nice saying of Swami Ranganathanandaji to the question: How one can understand that one is progressing in the spiritual path? He or she is becoming more and more spiritual?
He says: “Are you growing spiritually? Can you love others? Can you feel oneness with others? Have you peace within yourself? and do you radiate it around you? That is called spiritual growth, which is stimulated by meditation inwardly, and by work done in a spirit of service outwardly.”
Know yourself means to become one with others. That is the ideal – become one with others. If you become one with others, then you will become unselfish. And Swami Vivekananda said again and again that the test of a spirituality, is nothing but unselfishness.
If a person says that he goes to temple 100 times and does puja, but at the same time he is most selfish, that person cannot become spiritual. So if you want to become spiritual, first condition is that you have to become unselfish.
A story of unselfishness: John Rockefeller
Money, name, fame, power, position, all these things cannot give you real happiness and peace. In this context, I think some of you may know it, that John Rockefeller in those days was the richest man in America.
John Rockefeller was the emperor of petroleum products in those days. But he was not at all happy. He did not have peace of mind. He was so mentally disturbed that he was contemplating suicide.
One day one of his friends said to Rockefeller, “You see, you are not happy, you are very morose and depressed and frustrated. One Indian yogi has come. You can go and meet him.” At that time Swamiji was in America, New York.
Rockefeller thought within himself: “Yogi means beggar’. What a beggar can tell me and teach me?”
However, one day he found Swamiji’s address, and in the morning without any appointment, John Rockefeller entered the house where Swamiji stayed. Without an appointment, without informing anybody, straightway he came to Swamiji’s room. Swamiji was completely engrossed in reading. He did not see Rockefeller. Rockefeller was standing and thinking, “What is this fellow, he is not looking at me, I am John Rockefeller. Even the President stands before me and this fellow is not doing anything, not looking at me.”
After a few minutes Swamiji looked at him. “What do you want? Why have you come?” Then Swamiji started saying on his own: “I know why you have come to me. You don’t have peace of mind and you are suffering like anything.” He told him some private, sad incidents of his life. John Rockefeller became very surprised – “What is this? He knows all this about me. How did he come to know? Except me no one else knows, but, this Swami from India, how did he come to know?” Then he asked, “How did you come to know about all these incidents of my private life?” Swamiji said, “Look, I can see through and through. When a person is standing before me I can see the inside of that person. If you put something inside the glass door almirah, you can see what is kept inside the almirah through the glass. Similarly I can also see through you”.
Rockefeller became very impressed. Then Swamiji said: “You are not happy, you don’t have peace of mind. You have amassed a lot of wealth, you are the richest person in America. In spite of that you are not happy; you don’t have peace of mind. Do one thing: do something for others.”
Rockefeller was not happy with this proposal. Anyway he went away. After few days, again without informing, he came to Swamiji. Swamiji was again at that time writing something, was very engrossed. Rockefeller threw a cheque of huge amount on Swamiji’s table. “Look you are saying that I must do something for others, for poor people, the underprivileged, so this is the cheque.” Swamiji just looked at it.
Then Rockefeller said, “Swami you must thank me”. Swamiji said, “Why should I thank you? Rather you should thank me that I had sparked that inspiration in you that you must do something for others.” And all of you know that afterwards big foundation called the Rockefeller Foundation was established for helping others.
That is why unselfishness, feeling for others is essential in everybody’s life. The more you feel contracted, selfish and narrow, the more your life will become miserable.
In a letter to the Maharaja of Mysore, Swamiji writes: (it is very famous quote of Swamiji)“This life is short, the vanities of the world are transient, but they alone live who live for others, the rest are more dead than alive.
But unfortunately we all live for ourselves, not for others. When selfishness comes life becomes miserable.
Practicing spirituality in day-to-day life: working in the spirit of service
One question asked some time back was: How we can practice spirituality in our day to day life?
You can practice spirituality in your day to day life or work. It is very easy – not really easy I should say – but you just have to change your mindset! That is very important. If you change your attitude/ mindset you can practice spirituality in your day to day work.
How you can do that? You are working in the office with some attitude – how you can get more clients, how you can contribute to the society, to the company, etc. But you need to work in the spirit of service. That is very important.
But many of us do not have that attitude. If you do work in the attitude of service you will definitely be benefitted by it, you will become more and more spiritual.
That is why Bhagvan Sri Krishna told Arjuna: “You are frustrated, you are dejected. So do one thing. Work without expecting the result of your action.”
This may sound very absurd – that without expecting anything in return how can you do work? What then is the motivation of work? But this is not absurd. If a person does work sincerely and he or she doesn’t expect anything in return, that is what matters. If you do good work, good results will come. If you do bad work, bad results will come. So you need not bother about the result of your action. Because this is the law of action and of karma.
Normally, before doing anything, you think: ‘What will be the result? What will be the return?’. And you feel frustrated, mentally disturbed. Your duty is to work. So you work and you will get the result. And result is also not in your hand.
Whether you will get good results or bad result is not in your hand. It is like shooting arrow. If you shoot arrow then arrow goes, then you have no control over it. Arrow may hit the target, it may not hit the target, it may go this way or that way. Similarly you don’t have any control over the result of you action. You do not know whether you will succeed or not.
So Lord Krishna said that unnecessarily you should not bother about this result of your action. Your duty is to work – work sincerely, and you will get the result. There is no doubt about it. No struggle will go without its fruit. You will surely get the fruits some time or the other.
When you work with this attitude – whether you are working in the court, in the corporate office, in agriculture, factory– you will definitely get peace of mind. Otherwise your mind will get disturbed.
Conclusion Be unselfish, don’t expect any result of your action and then you can lead a peaceful life.
Swami Sarvalokananda addressing Rotarians in Mumbai.
Swami Vivekananda’s message is life giving and strengthening
Today not only India but the whole world needs the life giving, strengthening, character building, nation building and man-making message of Swami Vivekananda. Swamiji time and again said that ‘Each soul is potentially divine’. He said that you are divine, that is why infinite power, strength, so much of goodness and immense possibilities lie within you. You can do anything and everything. Don’t think of yourself as weak. He said “Weakness is death and Strength is life”.
Now-a-days we talk about positive and negative energy and positive thinking and negative thinking. Swamiji spoke about these. He said think yourself as great and strong. This is positive thinking. To think yourself as weak is negative energy and emotion. Swamiji was very positive in his approach.
Once the great Noble laureate of France – Romain Roland wrote to the great poet Rabindranath Tagore that he wants to know India – its culture, civilization, traditions. Rabindranath Tagore wrote in one line – “If you want to know India, study Swami Vivekananda. Everything in him is positive, nothing negative.”
Swamiji was a monk – a spiritual leader, and he always wanted the spiritual welfare of mankind. But at the same time he wanted the material prosperity of India in particular. When Swamiji was traveling as a wandering monk in India, not as a simple tourist, he traveled the length and breadth of India to know about India and its problems. Swamiji was very pained to see the hapless condition of India in those days – 150 years ago. He realized that India was once great in the past. In all fields – science, technology, arts, commerce, trade, literature, dance and music. In the Vedic age India was even greater in science and technology than it is today. For example, the base of the mathematics – the digit ‘0’ was not discovered by an American or German. It was discovered by our great Mathematician – Ayrabhatta. Please read the book “Incredible India” in that you will find so many things – you will be really surprised and astonished how great India was in the past.
Swami Vivekananda’s concern for the country He realized that in the present India’s condition was hapless – millions of people dying of starvation, no education, illiteracy, poverty and so on. With this pain in his heart, he reached the tip of India at Kanyakumari. He sat on the rock. What was the subject of his meditation? It was not Gods and Goddesses, or Mother Kanyakumari! It is surprising that being a monk the subject was not any Gods or Goddesses, but was India, India, and India – the past India, the present India, and the future India. He asked what was the cause of the downfall of India in the present? He realized in his meditation that the cause of India’s degeneration were 3 main factors:
One factor is exploitation, oppression, suppression by the rich or the higher. Second is the neglect of women. And third is that the religion in India was not practiced properly in true spirit. Even today you can see a lot of bloodshed, genocide, violence, mass-killing etc. in the name of religion. Due to this, India had degraded so much! However at the same time in his meditation he realized that the India will rise again in such a way that the future India will fade away the glory of the past.
He realized who will raise the country. So he said Uttishtha Jagratia… arise, awake and stop not till the goal is reached. Arise, awake, dedicate yourself – for the regeneration and development of India.
That is why I say that it is really surprising that being a monk he said – throw away the Gods and Goddesses for the coming 50 years. Now dedicate yourself for the regeneration of India. He was so concerned about the development and prosperity of India.
Sister Nivedita – one of his lady disciples – watched Swami Vivekananda very closely. She said that in Swamiji was India, India, India, India – how to awaken India, how to raise India, how to make India great was his only concern. So he gave a clarion call to the masses – it is not time for sleeping. Get up and dedicate yourself for the regeneration of India.
Swami Vivekananda was invited to give a speech in the Parliament of Religions in Chicago. Everyone knows that in his opening session of the lecture, Swami Vivekananda became very popular, famous and great overnight. He was put up in a very palatial building with great luxury and comfort. But Swamiji couldn’t sleep. He spent many sleepless nights in spite of so much of comfort and luxury because he realized that in the West – especially in America, there is so much of prosperity, luxury, comforts. But in my country India, thousands of people are starving. They don’t have even a square meal. They are full of illiteracy and poverty. Swami Vivekananda was very pained and couldn’t sleep on the comfortable cot. He used to lie down on the floor of the room and shed tears when thinking of the hapless condition of India. The pillow cover would get wet!
This was Swamiji’s concern for India.
Though he was a monk, he was also very concerned about bringing Science & Technology to our country. When he was in Europe and America, he realized that without proper Science & Technology, a country cannot rise materially.
Swami Vivekananda inspired manufacturing, science and technology in the country I will tell you one incident about when Swamiji was traveling on a ship to go to Chicago. Jamshedji Tata was also traveling on the same ship going to Japan. Two great personalities: one – the great spiritual personality Swami Vivekananda, and the other – a great industrialist of India. When they started talking, Jameshedji Tata was very impressed by Swamiji. Swamiji asked Jamshedji where he was going. He said he was going to Japan to import some machinery. Swamiji told Jamshedji that his decision to import machinery from Japan was not wise. He asked him why he doesn’t start an industry for manufacturing that machinery in India. If he would start that, many unemployed youth would get employment and Indian money will remain in India. He also encouraged Jamshedji Tata to start a research center for industry.
Inspired by Swamiji’s advice, after 2-3 years, Jameshedji Tata started the Indian Institute of Science in Bengaluru. Today it is very renowned in India. Jamshedji Tata then wrote in a letter to Swamiji that he was very encouraged and inspired by the conversation with Swamiji’s on the ship, and that he has now started this research institute in Bengaluru.
Swami Vivekananda’s call for ‘men’ of character in building the country
Now-a-days we talk about the development of India. Don’t judge India by the cosmopolitan cities like Mumbai, Chennai, Kolkata or Bengaluru. Go to the village and you will find the real picture of India after nearly 70 years of independence. You cross the city of Mumbai and got towards the Western side, you will see the tribals starving. There is no electricity, no medical facility, no education! We realize now that even after nearly 70 years of independence, India could not reach the target of success. India has made some development and progress in some fields. However it has to still rise.
You can see Swami Vivekananda’s question – where are the men – where are the leaders. He would say “Men, men are wanted”. What kind of men? Not the corrupt men, but men of character, integrity, strength is what Swamiji wanted. Swamiji said that with a few men of integrity and character, I can revolutionize the whole world. So he would put emphasis on character and man-making education.
Character is such a wonderful thing. It has tremendous power. Swamiji said once – character has such power that it can cleave through the adamantine walls of difficulties. If you have character, you can face any difficulties in your life. So character is very important. There is a very famous proverb –“If wealth is lost nothing is lost, If health is lost something is lost, if character is lost everything is lost”. So Swami Vivekananda used to put emphasis on character.
Swami Vivekananda and servant leadership
We talk about leadership. Swamiji believed in servant leadership. With effective leadership you can change the whole scenario – you can bring about a transformation. So effective leadership is very important. According to Swami Vivekananda, servant leadership can bring transformation in various fields. It is becoming popular in India and other countries. What is servant leadership? Swamiji said – if you want to become a leader, first become a servant. दासस्य दास – servant of servants. Then you can become a true leader.
Not only that, Swamiji used to quote Guru Nanak – सिरदार तो सरदार. You have to sacrifice your head. Only then you can become a sardar! (Sardar means leader). It doesn’t mean you have to cut your head! Swamiji is saying that if one truly wants to become an effective leader, one must sacrifice ego, vanity, selfishness and jealousy. Then one can become a true leader. And that is called servant leadership.
Swami Vivekananda was the ideal positivist. He would talk about positive thinking all the time. You will never find in his life anything negative.
The synthesis of science and spirituality according to Swami Vivekananda
We talk about science & spirituality. What is the great contribution of Swami Vivekananda towards this synthesis? It is not true that spirituality is not based on science, reasoning or any kind of investigation. Spirituality or religion is very verified and verifiable, and is based on scientific truths. Physical scientists do experiments and research in the material field. Spiritual scientists do research in the realm of the spirit. Both are scientists, the field of research and experiment are different. Ultimately both scientists will reach the same goal.
Right now it seems like their goals are different. It will take time when physical and spiritual scientists will meet the same goal.
According to Swami Vivekananda, religion and spirituality is not just blind faith. It is also a science. When Swami Vivekananda was a young boy, he went to his Guru – Sri Ramakrishna and asked “Sir have you seen God?”. Sri Ramakrishna said: ‘Yes I have seen God. Not only have I seen him, if necessary I can show you also.’This is the language of science. What does science do? They can do some experiments and demonstrate it to the others.
Swami Vivekananda’s call to service
Again, Swami Vivekananda said that India will arise in such a way that it will fade away the glory of the past. We are all hoping that India will emerge in 2020 as the strongest, vibrant nation – economically strong. It may not happen by 2020, but it is true that in some years, it will definitely rise again. It is already rising in many ways. Once Swamiji has said it, it will surely happen because Swamiji is a Rishi, and a Rishi’s words cannot go in vain. They will come true today or tomorrow.
Swamiji believed not only in the spiritual welfare of mankind, but also in material prosperity. He wanted spiritual and material welfare to go side by side. That is why the motto of Ramakrishna Mission is “Atmano Mokshartham, Jagad Hitaya Cha”. What is the meaning of this – for one’s own evolution, and for the good of the world. By doing good to others, you will get mukti – liberation.
The motto of Rotary Club is also – Service above self. This is selfless service to mankind. This is what Swamiji said in other words – that service to man is service to God. That is why he said – where do you seek God? In the Chruch, Synagogue, Temple? God is standing before you in the forms of the diseased, the poor, the illiterate. Try to serve them if you have an opportunity. This is selfless service – service above the self – Nishkama Karma.
Swami Vivekananda said we have to serve the country unselfishly. He said – unselfishness is life, selfishness is death!
Swami Vivekananda’s writings
As a wandering monk in India, he realized that all Maharajas, rich people are not doing anything for the development of India. simply enjoying. He once wrote a letter to the Maharaja of Mysore (after he had been a guest of the Maharaj for a few days). In the beautiful letter in the beginning he says “My noble prince, This life is short, the vanities of the world are transient, but they alone live who live for others, the rest are more dead than alive”. How Swami Vivekananda used to inspire people!
He passed away at the age of 39 and a few months. Why did he die so early? He used to lecture every day 3-4 lectures in a day when he was in America and Europe. You will find a book “Lectures from Colombo to Almora” with lectures that he gave after he came back to India. He used to keep inspiring people all the time – do something for your motherland. If you read the “Lectures from Colombo to Almora” you cannot imagine how you will be charged with new ideas for doing something for your country, your society!
The other book is the ‘Letters of Swami Vivekananda’. These letters have fire that will enter into anybodys heart. When Romain Rolland read Swami Vivekananda’s book, he said when I read his book, I felt that an electric shock was entering into my body and mind. The words were so powerful, piercing, and penetrating.
Swami Vivekananda was not just a spiritual leader. His contribution to India’s freedom and the regeneration of India is immense. Many of you may not know that. You may only know that he went to the Parliament of Religions, delivered lectures, addressed the audience as ‘Sisters and Brothers’, and there was a clap for 5 minutes. Another huge dimension we do not know! So we must read his life and message.
Swami Vivekananda’s message of Universal Truth & your true nature
One message is very relevant. You may feel that Swamiji not relevant in the modern context. But it is always relevant. It is more relevant today than before. Because whatever he spoke is Universal Truth. And Universal Truth is always relevant. It is beyond time and space.
What is this Universal Truth? You must understand what is your real identity. That is the Universal Truth. There are actually two identities. One is worldly – material identity and the second is the spiritual identity. All of us know about the material identity – I am so & so, my name is so & so, I am working in some corporate/ business house/ doing some business, my id is some dot.com!
Dear friends, according to Indian philosophy, according to the universal truth, your real identity is not yahoo or gmail.com. It is something else. Most of us do not know that. We are not simply a biologically conditioned entity, but beyond that. Our spiritual scientists have discovered it and the greatest discovery on this earth is that human beings are not made of bones, blood and flesh. Human beings have another identity/ entity beyond this physical body-mind complex (as is mentioned in the scriptures). What is that? Our spiritual scientists have discovered that it is ‘Shivoham Shivoham, Chidananda Rupah…” I am Shiva. I am Chidananda rupah. That is my identity – my real nature – everybody’s real nature. But due to ignorance we do not know it.
There is a famous story of the lion and sheep. A lioness attacked a group of sheep. The lioness died and the baby lion lived with the sheep. He started eating grass and bleating like them. The baby lion forgot his identity – that he is a lion. One day another lion came and attacked the same group of sheep. That lion saw that that baby lion was with the sheep and wondered what happened. He was bleating and eating grass!
The senior lion went to the baby and told him – are you afraid of me? I am also a lion and so are you. The baby said I am a sheep. Senior said you are not sheep and dragged him to the water and showed him his reflection. You are not sheep, you are a lion and you look like me.
Similarly we also do not know our identity. We have forgotten that we are not only the physical body made only of flesh and blood and bones and conditioned biological entities. Your real nature is that you are Atama, Brahman. You are all pervasive. Nobody can destroy you – nobody can do any harm to you.
That is why you find in the Bhagavad Gita the wonderful teachings of Sri Krishna to Arjuna. He ask Arjuna at the beginning of the battle – why are you nervous and dejected like an ordinary person. But he was not ordinary. He was a great warrior of his time. Yet his bow slipped from his hand. What is the reason? Because he felt how can I kill my seniors – they are my Guru, my grandfather, etc. If I kill them I will incur sin. A man like Arujna – who has never seen defeat in his life – says he will not fight in the battle field though he came with all energy and enthusiasm to fight his Kaurava cousins.This was because Arjuna did not realize the real nature of human beings.
So Bhagavan Sri Krishna tells him you feel you will kill your relatives. How can you kill them? You will not. Their real nature is not the physical body. You can only kill the body but in reality you cannot kill them. That is why in the second chapter, he starts his teaching describing the glory of Atman and Brahman – the real identity of the human being.
Spreading this message to mankind is the great contribution of Swami Vivekananda. If you start believing this message, inner strength will come to you. Today we are lacking that inner strength. There are two kinds of strengths – external and internal. Externally you may be very strong – you have name, fame, degrees, money etc. but internally you may be very weak. When problems and challenges come, you cannot face them with only external strength. You have to face them with your internal strength. When you are internally growing then you will be able to face any kind of problem or challenges. Not otherwise.
Take Swami Vivekananda as your guide, and practice true spirituality
So take Swami Vivekananda as a friend, philosopher and guide, and the new architect of new India which will rise again – more glorious than it has been in the past. So Swami Vivekananda’s great contribution for the new India is immense! Read him, get strength, you will be inspired and there will be transformation. Now-a-days everybody wants to practice spirituality. But most of us do not know what it is – not only in India but in the West also – a kind of trend has come that everyone wants to become spiritual. What is this spirituality? Just to sit in the corner of the temple and do some practices for 5-6 minutes? Or to offer some fruits or sweets to the deity in the temple? The real meaning of spirituality is the transformation of the inner being. If you really practice spirituality an inner transformation will come. Your greed, jealousy, hatred, all negative emotions will go away. You will slowly grow as a spiritual person – without any selfishness, hatred, jealousy.
I conclude with these few words. सर्वेभवन्तुसुखिना, सर्वेसन्तुनिर्माया।Let all be happy, let all be healthy!