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Swami Vivekananda- The eternal light of knowledge and spirituality

Aishwarya Nair

“Uthishtatha Jagratha”- a slogan that was inspired from a sloka of Katha Upanishad, Swami Vivekananda popularised it in the late 19th century. It meant “Arise, awake, and stop not till the goal is reached.” Swami Vivekananda wanted Hindus to get out of their hypnotized state of mind and this saying was to awaken their “sleeping soul” and propagate the message of peace and blessings given by the “ancient Mother” to the world.

The patron saint of India, Swami Vivekananda is one of the eminent personalities in the history of Hindus. He was born on January 12, 1863 as Narendranath Datta in Calcutta. He found his spiritual master Sri Ramakrishna, who was a priest at the temple of Goddess Kali. Like Aurobindo said, ” The Master ( Sri. Ramakrishna) marked out Vivekananda as the heroic soul destined to take the world between his two hands and change it.”

When Vivekananda’s father died, whole family faced financial crisis. He went to Ramakrishna and asked him to pray for his family but Ramakrishna refused and told Vivekananda to pray himself in front of Goddess Kali. He could not ask for wealth, money but instead of it he asked for conscience. That day he was marked with spiritual awakening and a way of ascetic life was started. This was the turning point in his life and accepted Ramakrishna his Guru.

Narendra, as he was fondly called by his parents, was inclined towards spirituality after his master clarified all his doubts, gave him spiritual visions and transformed him into a sage with an authority to teach.

Swami Vivekananda was an intellect and taught universal principles rather than personalities. His famous Chicago speech has always been an epitome of togetherness, when he addressed the people as ‘Brothers and Sisters’ instead of ‘Ladies and Gentlemen’. In the speech, Swami Vivekananda opened eyes of millions by propagating the values of Hinduism.

Surprisingly he was the youngest delegate to address at the Chicago’s Parliament of religions in 1893 and captivated the audience with his spiritual presence and universal message of shared spirituality and harmony of world religions. He said, “We believe not only in universal toleration, but we accept all religions as true. I am proud to belong to a nation which has sheltered the persecuted and the refugees of all religions and all nations of the earth.”

Swami Vivekananda brought Hinduism and spirituality to a broader outlook all over the world. He had a major role in the revival of Hinduism in India.

“Learn everything that is good from others but bring it in, and in your own way absorb it; do not become others.”

He started the Sri. Ramakrishna Mission in 1897 and established the Ramakrishna Mutt in Belur.

Swami Vivekananda once said, “Whatever you think, that you will be. If you think yourselves weak, weak you will be; if you think yourselves strong, strong you will be.” He also said, “See for the highest, aim at that highest, and you shall reach the highest.”

His message was simple yet powerful. Vivekananda conveyed his ideas directly to the people, especially to the youth. His message broke through the shackles of caste and creed and spoke of a language of universal brotherhood. What he said captures the great importance of his ideas and ideals among the youth in our country today. He personified the eternal energy of the youth and their restless quest for truth.

It is entirely fitting that 12th January, the birth anniversary of Swami Vivekananda, is observed as National Youth Day to rekindle the eternal message of this great patriot and son of India.

The great soul died at the age of only 39 on 4th July 1902, but his teachings and visions still remain immortal.

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