Swami Vivekananda’s inspiring thoughts on India

Swami Vivekananda is one of the greatest spiritual gurus of the world. But he is also who can also be called a ‘Patriot Monk.’ His love, admiration and respect for his motherland shines brightly through volumes of his teachings.

Here are some of his inspiring thoughts on India on the occasion of Republic Day:

– I am proud that I am a countryman of yours. You the descendants of the sages, you the descendants of the most glorious Rishis the world ever saw. Therefore have faith in yourselves, be proud of your ancestors.

swami-vivekananda– Shall India die? Then from the world all spirituality will be extinct, all moral perfection will be extinct, all sweet-souled sympathy for religion will be extinct, all ideality will be extinct; and in its place will reign the duality of lust and luxury as the male and female deities, with money as its priest, fraud, force, and competition its ceremonies, and the human soul its sacrifice. Such a thing can never be.

– Once more the wheel is turning up, once more vibrations have been set in motion from India, which are destined at no distant day to reach the farthest limits of earth. Believe, believe, the decree has gone forth, the fiat of the Lord has gone forth – India must rise, the masses and the poor are to be made happy.

– India will be raised, not with the power of the flesh, but with the power of the spirit; not with the flag of destruction, but with the flag of peace and love, the garb of the Sannyasin; not by the power of wealth, but by the power of the begging bowl

– Let us all work hard, my brethren; this is no time for sleep. Do not figure out big plans at first, but begin slowly, feel the ground, and proceed. Up, up, the long night is passing, the day is approaching, the wave has risen, nothing will be able to resist its tidal fury.

– Let her New India arise – out of the peasants’ cottage, grasping the plough; out of the huts of the fisherman, the cobbler, and the sweeper. Let her spring from the grocer’s shop, from beside the oven of the fritter-seller. Let her emanate from the factory, from marts, and from markets. Let her emerge from groves and forests, from hills and mountains…

– Arise and awake and see her seated here on her eternal throne, rejuvenated, more glorious than she ever was – this Motherland of ours.

How Swami Vivekananda attacked communalism, casteism, class division in one go

The following incident is taken from the book, Swami Vivekananda: The Friend Of All. It’s published by Swami Sarvabhutananda. The incident is presented on the occasion of his 154th Birth Anniversary (January 12, 2017).

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It was 1891. Swamiji was staying at Mount Abus as a guest of a Muslim lawyer. He invited him saying, “If you would condescend to live with me, I shall feel myself greatly blessed. But I am a Mussalman. I shall, of course, make separate arrangements for your food.” Swamiji didn’t hear a word of that.

swami-vivekananda-wallpaperOne day, Jagmohanlal, the Private Secretary of the Raja of Khetri, came to the lawyer’s bungalow and was quite surprised to see Swamiji, a Hindu sanyasi, there. Unable to conceal his wonder, Jagmohanlal said to Swamiji, “Well, Swamiji, you are a Hindu monk. How is it that you are living with a Muslim?”

Swamiji, who couldn’t stand any differentiation on the basis of religion and caste, sternly replied, “Sir, what do you mean? I am a Sanyasin. I am above all your social conventions. I can dine even with a Bhangi. I am not afraid of God because He sanctions it. I am not afraid of the scriptures for they allow it. But I am afraid of you people and your society. You know nothing of God and scriptures. I see Brahman everywhere, manifested even through the meanest of creature. For me, there is nothing high or low. Shiva Shiva!”

Every word of Swamiji rained fire while Munshi Jagmohanlal stood mesmerized before his towering personality.

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The above incident conveys a lot more than it seems. On the surface, it speaks about Swami Vivekananda’s intolerance to religious division. But from what he told Jagmohanlal, we also get to know about his opposition to any sort of casteism, especially from the line, “I see Brahman everywhere…”

Similarly, by saying, “But I am afraid of you people and your society,” and “For me, there is nothing high or low,” he has also revealed that social class doesn’t exist for him. And he did walk his talk. This is evident from the incident where he happily accepted food from a person belonging to the so-called lower caste outside a railway station in Rajasthan.

This and many other such incidents from his life clearly show his forward and liberal thinking even more than 100 years ago.

By: Keyur Seta

Short Story: What is the true meaning of worshiping God?

By: Keyur Seta

People worship various Gods in various ways. There are innumerable theories and beliefs as to how to worship God and what pleases him/her the most. Some go through various austerities while others believe in saying a silent prayer for few seconds. But what exactly is the meaning of true worship? What pleases God the most?

Have a look at the following two scenarios and decide for yourself:-

1)

Mr X is a super-rich industrialist, living in the plush Cuffe Parade locality of south Mumbai. His family, which consists of his wife, two kids and mother, has access to all the luxuries one could imagine. His kids go to the most expensive school in the city. Buying new clothes, gadgets, accessories and what not is a continuous process for them. His family just needs a reason to throw parties that cost lakhs of rupees.

Mr X’s family is also very religious. They have a chamber in their apartment where they perform religious activities twice daily, without fail. His family religiously follows and celebrates all holy days and festivals as per the religious calendar. They are also seen embarking to holy places at least 4-5 times each year. Needless to say, they spend a bomb in religious activities too.

2)

Swami-VivekanandaLiving in the Girgaum area of south Mumbai, Mr Y hails from a simple middle-class family. He is a bank executive in a bank while his wife works with an insurance company. Naturally, their income falls in the average category. Their only child goes to a normal private school. Although Mr and Mrs Y believe in God, they aren’t ritualistic. They hardly visit places of worship and never go for holy trips.

Despite the fact that they don’t earn handsomely, the couple has been saving money since a year to contribute to the needy farmers of the Marathwada district, who are committing suicide due to drought and debt. They also involve themselves in various social issues selflessly whenever they get a chance.

So, the question arises as to who exactly is worshiping God here? Family X or family Y?

You decide.

Actors Nana Patekar and Makarand Anaspure have been selflessly working towards the cause of farmers of Maharashtra. They have been contributing from their own pocketss despite not being rich. They have started an NGO called NAM Foundation.

You can contribute any amount that suits you by following the following method:-

Send in your amount to “NAM Foundation”

SBI Current account no. 35226127148

IFSC Code no. SBIN0006319

SWIFT Code no. SBININBB238

 

“If a stray dog of my country remains without food, my religion will be to feed and take care of him. All else is either non-religion of false religion.”

“He who sees Shiva in the poor, in the weak, and in the diseased, really worships Shiva. And if he sees Shiva only in the image, his worship is but preliminary.”

– Swami Vivekananda

5 inspiring incidents from Swami Vivekananda’s life

Swami Vivekananda’s birthday, which falls on January 12, is celebrated as National Youth Day in India. When Narendra Nath Datta was born on this day in 1863, who would have imagined him to become one of the brightest enlightening lights the world has seen?

Even 153 years after his birth and 114 years after his death, Swami Vivekananda’s messages and teachings continue to inspire people not just in India but world over, especially the youth. Swami Vivekananda’s life is full of amazing incidents. Therefore, these incidents are not mere incidents but an ocean of positive enlightenment.

On the pious occasion of the 153rd Birth Anniversary of Swami Vivekananda, let’s have a look at the 5 most enlightening and inspiring incidents from his life.

1) At Mount Abu Swami Vivekananda stayed with a Muslim lawyer who invited him saying, “If you would condescend to live with me, I shall feel myself greatly blessed. But I am a Mussalman. I shall, of course, make separate arrangements for your food.” Swamiji didn’t hear a word of that. When being asked by a visitor, “Well, Swamiji, you are a Hindu monk. How is it that you are living with a Muslim? Your food might, now and then, be touched by him.”

(READ: How Swami Vivekananda attacked communalism, casteism, class division in one go)

Swamiji, who couldn’t stand any differentiation on the basis of religion and caste, sternly replied, “Sir, what do you mean? I am a Sanyasin. I am above all your social conventions. I can dine even with a Bhangi. I am not afraid of God because He sanctions it. I am not afraid of the scriptures for they allow it. But I am afraid of you people and your society. You know nothing of God and scriptures. I see Brahman everywhere, manifested even through the meanest of creature. For me, there is nothing high or low. Shiva Shiva!”

Swami Vivekananda 2

2) Once Swamiji was given a rousing reception at a railway station in America as he got down from the train. A Negro porter went forward to shake hands with him saying: “Congratualations! I am extremely delighted that a man of my race has attained such great honor! The entire Negro community in this country feels proud of you!’ Swamiji eagerly shook hands with the porter and said warmly, “Thank you, brother!” He refused to deny he was a Negro.

When asked why he didn’t reveal that he wasn’t a Negro, he angrily replied, “What? Should I rise at the expense of other? I was not born for that!”

Swami Vivekananda Statue

3) Once, Swamiji was having a lengthy trek in the Himalayas. He found an old man extremely exhausted and standing despairingly at the foot of an upward incline. The old man said to Swamiji in frustration, “Oh, sir I don’t know how I am going to cross it; I cannot walk any longer; my chest will halt.”

Swamiji said, “Look down at your feet. The road which is under your feet is the road that you have crossed over and is the same road that you see beforehand you; it will quickly be under your feet.” These words inspired the old man to continue his onward trek.

Swami Vivekananda - Youth_2

4) When Swamiji was traveling across India, he came across a cobbler, who was looked down upon due to his profession. Therefore, the cobbler too felt the same about his profession. Swamiji tried igniting self-respect in him saying, “Your profession is very noble. It is only because of you that people are able to roam around without feeling the heat of the earth.” These words had a magical impact on the cobbler and he instantly developed self-respect for his work. No work is lowly!

Swami Vivekananda Message

5) During his voyage across India, Swamiji once halted at a railway station in Rajasthan, where he used to preach his message to eager listeners. However, three days passed by and nobody offered him any food. A cobbler noticed this and expressed his desire to offer him food. But he was scared since he belonged to a lower caste. However, Swamiji, who was against the notion of caste, happily accepted food from him.

Some people, having noticed this, condemned Swamiji for accepting food cooked by a cobbler. To this, Swamiji angrily replied, “You people claim to be gentleman and boast of your high caste; what is more shameful that you condemn this man for being from a low caste. Can you overlook the humanity he has just shown and despise him without feeling ashamed?”

Vivekananda- Parliament of religons

When Ramakrishna monks recited Bible on Christmas eve…

By: Keyur Seta

Christmas Eve is an important occasion at all Ramakrishna Mission centers across the world. It was on December 24 in the year 1886 when Swami Vivekananda, then known as Narendra Nath Datta, and his brother disciples acquired monasticism (Brahmacharya).

Ramakrishna-Mission-ChristmasThey later established the the first Ramakrishna Mission center at Belur in Kolkata, named after their Guru Sri Ramakrishna Paramhansa. The place is known as the Belur Math. In other words, Swami Vivekananda’s mission towards inspiring and serving humanity began on Christmas Eve.

Therefore, every Christmas Eve is celebrated in a unique way at every Ramakrishna Mission centers. Catholic Priests are specially invited for the occasion.

The scenes were the same this year too at the Mumbai math. As per the scheduled rituals, the event started off with Jesus Aarti. This was followed by the recitation of The Holy Bible by Swami Mukteshanandaji. After a speech by Swami Sarvalokanandaji, Father Philip D’Souza gave a discourse on Christmas and the need for harmony.

Lastly, Swami Kamalakantandaji and party sang Christmas Carols and the closing song.

Merry Christmas to one and all 🙂

christmas-ramakrishna
Jesus Aarti during last year’s celebrations

 

Is it possible to follow Bhagavad Gita in today’s era?

By: Keyur Seta

One of the most important messages of the Bhagavad Gita is to work without bothering about rewards or fruits of action while surrendering all your efforts to God or the Supreme Personality of Godhead, Lord Krishna.

But is this theory applicable in today’s times? Whether or not ancient epics or texts are relevant in the modern era has been a debate since long. However, if you try to delve deep into the meaning of the Gita or any ancient literature for that matter, you will realize that it is completely relevant today and will remain so till life exists.

Bhagvad-GitaHere is an example people of today’s era would be able to relate with. Often, people opt for a particular job just because of good money on offer, without being passionate about the work. This ensures a good amount of satisfaction in the initial period. But as time passes by, the satisfaction keeps reducing. The job becomes mechanical because apart from money, there will be nothing a person can take back from it.

Many might ask – What else do you require from a job apart from a fat salary? Well, we should not forget that we are human beings and not machines. No human can be devoid of emotions. And from emotions comes the need for passion. Hence, we require passion in whatever we do. Else, what will be the difference between a person and a machine, whose job is just to keep producing products?

Seriously, how many people are happy with their jobs today? Most of the people I meet hate working. As soon as they enter office, they wait for the day to end. They are super sad on Mondays and cheerful on Fridays and Saturdays. As far as Sundays are concerned, they are happy in the mornings but start sulking since evening. This is how the phrase ‘Monday Morning Blues’ came into existence.

The reason for their condition is simple – They are working only for money. But then, what can be a practical solution for this? This is where the aforementioned message from the Gita comes in handy. The only solution to this is to not think about money and keep dedicating all your work to the Lord.

Picture: Patheos.com
Picture: Patheos.com

While carrying out your work, just think that your only aim is to please the Lord. This will ensure that your work will become sadhana or worship. Then automatically you will derive satisfaction from whatever you do. If you don’t worship Krishna, you can think of any other God, or even a Guru for that matter.

Working without thinking about money shouldn’t be confused with working for free. It also doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t be bothered about money and be ready to work for low wages. It simply means that one should not solely keep the monetary factor in mind.

One might ask whether this can be done even for someone engaged in clerical work. Actually, no work should be considered lower. If whatever you are doing is legal and if you are sure you are not hurting someone, you have all the right to feel proud of your work.

Once, Swami Vivekananda genuinely praised a cobbler saying that it is because of him that people are able to roam around without feeling the heat of the earth. Suddenly, the cobbler developed self-respect for himself and his work, which he clearly lacked earlier.

It’s that simple.

RKM Food & Nutrition Seminar: “India wastes as much food as UK consumes.”

By: Keyur Seta

Pictures: Tejprakash Mishra

Even after almost 68 years of independence, millions are dying in India due to hunger. In fact, India ranks 63 out of 88 in Global Hunger Index. However, amidst such a situation, India is also infamous for wasting food alarmingly. It might give you a jolt to know that India wastes as much food as the entire United Kingdom (UK) consumes!

ramakrishna-mission-mumbai
The stage

These disturbing statistics were shared at the Leadership Seminar at Ramakrishna Mission, Mumbai by Sushil Kumar Singh, Senior Manager of Fruits & Vegetables Division in Reliance Retail. The theme of the seminar was Human Excellence in Sustainable Business Transformation in Agriculture, Food and Nutrition Industry. It was organized by Mr. Jayanta Roy.

Singh also had more alarming details to share. Each year, 21 million tons of wheat is wasted due to lack of proper storage, food distribution chains and poor transport facility. Apart from the fallacies of the authorities, individual manners also play a role in wasting huge amounts of food. This is seen the most in buffets, restaurant meals and parties.

He also highlighted what one can do to stop this:-

1) Avoid impulse ordering when you are hungry.

2) Inquire how your office canteen manages excess food.

3) Plan to handle excess food during parties.

4) Make it a habit to finish your plate and inculcate it to others.

A follower presented Swami Vivekananda's sculpture made of chocolate.
A follower presented Swami Vivekananda’s sculpture made of chocolate.

Prof. Shobha A. Udipi, HOD Food, Science & Nutrition at SNDT University, stressed on the importance of nutrition through the following points:-

  • Not many might know that India is the Diabetes capital of the world.
  • These days, people are happily abandoning traditional food patterns by having all types of junk food thereby blocking proper nutrition.
  • Ayurveda strictly advises against the practice of having all types of food for the entire year. For example, Til Ladoos are eaten during Sankranti because it has properties needed for the body during winters. However, people are now consuming it throughout the year. Ayurveda it is not just about medicine but way of life.
  • Craze for polished rice is spreading fast whereas normal rice is best for us.
  • Our needs are very less. But the problem these days is that our wants are taking precedence over needs.

Development in the opposite and positive direction was also shared at the event when Mr Warke explained the heartwarming service by Akshay Patra of providing meals to 1.5 million kids daily across India. The highlight of the session was their process of making 40,000 chapatis every hour, whose video footage was screened at the event.

Mainak Dhar
Mainak Dhar

The event had another share of delight when Bharat Kedia, CFO of Parag Milk Foods, narrated and demonstrated the success story of their owner and founder Devendra Shah, who played a big role in India’s White Revolution. After witnessing it, I bet many of us would become interested in visiting their dairy, especially for the kind manner in which they milk their cows, unlike most other dairies.

The event also saw speeches and presentations by Sadabrata Ghosh, Ex-VP ICI Ltd, on Human Excellence in Agriculture, Dr R. Shesha Iyer (Director, S P Jain Institute of Management) on Ethical Leadership & Social Responsibility, Prof. Rekha S Singhal (HOD, Food Engineering & Chemical Technology) on Building World Class Institutions, Mainak Dhar (MG, General Mills) on Developing Leader of the Future. There was also a spiritual talk by Swami Narasimhananda from Advaita Ashrama.

Overall, the event highlighted that our apathy is the result of our own bad actions. Therefore, the solution lies in our good actions. The positive developments highlighted are proof of this theory.