Swami Sarvalokananda’s address on National Youth day 2014*
Swami Vivekananda as a youth icon
Swami Vivekananda’s birthday is observed as National Youth Day. There is a history behind this i.e. when UNO decided to observe a year as a Youth Year in 1984, the Government of India also decided to observe the same year as a Youth Year. A committee was formed to decide who will be the youth icon. Many names were suggested. After a lot of deliberation and discussion, it was decided unanimously that Swami Vivekananda is the only personality who can be the youth icon. Since then, 12th January, birthday of Swamiji is being observed as the National Youth Day every year.
The question may be raised – why is Swami Vivekananda the youth icon? Why should we accept him?
The life of Swami Vivekananda was the life of an ideal youth. Swami Vivekananda possessed all sterling qualities. He had multi-faceted talents, he was a great orator, a great poet, a singer, a social reformer, a great patriot, and above all, a great spiritual leader of the world. That is why Swami Vivekananda is the only personality who can be a leader or a youth icon.
If any young man/ woman studies the life of Swami Vivekananda, he/ she will definitely will get inspiration and strength. There are many personalities at present who have become the great celebrities of the world in different fields. If we enquire, we will find that Swami Vivekananda’s inspiration was behind many of them!
All of you know about Bill Gates who has the software empire. Once he came to Kolkata. Reporters asked him why he has come here. He replied I have come to pay respects to the birthplace of Swami Vivekananda. Swami Vivekananda is an inspiration in my life! Not only that, every day when I go to bed at night, I read 2-3 pages of The Complete Works of Swami Vivekananda!
Friends, if any person studies Swami Vivekananda very carefully and deeply, he/ she will definitely get inspiration, courage and strength.
Swami Vivekananda as a patriot
When we see Swami Vivekananda’s national spirit we become surprised. He was a great patriot – देशभक्त and देशप्रेमी. All the great freedom fighters – from Mahatma Gandhi to Subhas Chandra Bose – were inspired by Swami Vivekananda.
When Mahatma Gandhi – Father of the Nation – went to Belur Math, the Headquarters of Ramakrishna Math & Mission, the people gathered there requested him to speak something. Mahatmaji said – what can I speak standing on the holy precinct of Belur Math. This much I can tell – I have great love and respect for my Mother India. But after studying the Complete Works of Swami Vivekananda – his life and teachings – my love for the country has become thousandfold!
One more incident happened in this premises when we were observing the centenary celebrations of Swami Vivekananda in 1963. There was a great gathering – a public meeting. The then President of Ramakrishna Math & Mission started speaking about Swami Vivekananda’s patriotism. He said if Mahatma Gandhi is the Father of the Nation, then Swami Vivekananda is the Grandfather of the Nation!
Swami Vivekananda’s message on character building
Today, there is a tremendous erosion of human values. We are passing through a great crisis – a crisis of character. That is why we see all kinds of violence in the world, rampant corruption at all levels, brutality on women. Why are these very unfortunate and painful things happening? The main cause is the crisis of character.
Swami Vivekananda emphasized on character building – particularly on man-making and character-building education. He not only wanted money making education, but man-making and character-building education along with. Swamiji would say that character is such a power which cleaves its way through the adamantine wall of all difficulties. चरित्र बल के द्वारा हम सम्सत समस्याओं एवं समस्त चुनौतियों का सामना कर सकते हैं। हमारे देश एवं विदेश में, जो भी महान एवं बड़े हुए हैं, उनके पीछे एक ही कारण है – चरित्र बल! – strength of character.
Swami Vivekananda’s message of internal strength
I will tell you an incident. After Swami Vivekananda addressed the Parliament of Religions at Chicago, he stayed in America and Europe for 4-5 years. During his stay in America he was walking on the streets with his peculiar dress – the ochre robe and ochre turban on his head. Some American passersby saw this person with a peculiar dress. They had never seen anyone with such a dress. They discussed among themselves that this person seems to be very uncivilized and seems to have come from some uncivilized country. Out of curiosity they went to him and asked him which country he was from. With all pride, Swami Vivekananda said I am from India and I am an Indian.
They told him you are looking uncivilized – with a peculiar dress. Swami Vivekananda gave a befitting reply. Look – in your country, the dress and tailor make a person great and civilized. But in my country India, dress an tailor do not make a person great and civilized; but character makes a person great and civilized.
We will find direction in Swami Vivekananda!
Today the youth are suffering from a disease – not physical, but aimlessness – what we call दिशाहीनता in Hindi. Who will give them direction? Only Swami Vivekananda can give them the right kind of direction.
I would like to appeal to my young friends sitting here – read Swami Vivekananda. Study his works. Spread his message. You will get strength and inspiration for your benefit and for the benefit of the whole world. Read him! .
* Swami Sarvalokananda’s address at the National Youth Day 2104
Venue: Swami Vivekananda Auditorium of Ramakrishna Mission & Math Mumbai