Nerves of steel, Muscles of iron, and Minds like thunderbolt – Swami Vivekananda

Swami Vivekananda Birthday - National Youth Day

Ramakrishna was not a saint as many say, he was a realized soul and a great Guru. No one really understood the way he worked around with people and himself. He was a connoisseur of food, and loved eating. During his satsang he will leave in the middle, get in to the kitchen and have some food. Even his wife Sarada Devi used to criticize him for that. Everyone wondered why Ramakrishna despite being a realized being is behaving like that. He was such a great being, people used to reach higher levels of consciousness just by sitting next to him, but he seemed like a food addict. One day Sarada Devi became so agitated and told him not to be a food addict, Ramakrishna smiled and told her “One day I would refuse the food you offer and three days from then I will leave the body”. During his later days he moved to Kashipur, and one day he refused the food given to him by Sarada Devi and then she knew that he is going to to die, and exactly after three days he died.  He was not addicted to food, but he consciously created a desire for something in the world because realized being will leave their body if they don’t have any attachment to the worldly things.

Another thing which confused everyone was his love for Vivekananda (Narendranath).


Swami Vivekananda Birthday - National Youth DayNarendranath was a rationalist, he wanted reason and concrete proof for everything that was said to him. He never had any intention of meeting Ramakrishna, but destiny has a way of doing thing. Once in his literature class in General Assembly’s Institution, when he heard Principal Reverend W. Hastie lecturing on William Wordsworth’s poem The Excursion and the poet’s nature-mysticism. In the course of explaining the word trance in the poem, Hastie told his students that if they wanted to know the real meaning of it, they should go to Ramakrishna of Dakshineswar. This prompted some of his students, including Narendranath to visit Ramakrishna.

Narendranath was disappointed after seeing Ramakrishna. He thought to himself  “Can this man be a great teacher?”. I crept near to him and asked him the question which I had been asking others all my life:

“Do you believe in God, Sir?” “Yes”, he replied. “Can you prove it, Sir?” “Yes”. “How?” “Because I see Him just as I see you here, only in a much intenser sense.”

That impressed him and he began to go to Ramakrishna, day after day. However, Narendranath did not accept Ramakrishna as his Guru as he was more inclined to the ideals of Brahmo Samaj. He used to have serious arguments with Ramakrishna and leave the place with fury. Ramakrishna however will go after him and plead him and bring him back to the Mutt. Many disciples of Ramakrishna were envious of Narendranath, they wondered why Ramakrishna behaved like that, there were many exceptional disciples who were very devoted, but Ramakrishna always liked Narendranath more than anyone else.

That was because the moment Ramakrishna saw Narendranath, he knew that he got his spiritual heir. He exactly knew that Vivekananda is the person who is going to take his teachings across the globe.

Today (12/01/2012) is the 149th birth anniversary of Swami Vivekanand, whatever he said then is valid till date. There are very few people who can create lasting change in the minds of millions across different countries, languages and eras and Vivekananda is one such. If you read his works then he will sow a seed of spirituality, a seed of strength and a seed of inspiration within you. India has always been blessed with great yogis and spiritual masters, but many did not bother to mix with the material world and they quit everything. However a few took it upon themselves to teach the world what they knew and Vivekanada is one such person who created an image for Indian and Sanatana Dharma across the globe.

“At Cape Camorin sitting in Mother Kumari’s temple, sitting on the last bit of Indian rock—I hit upon a plan: We are so many sanyasis wandering about, and teaching the people metaphysics—it is all madness. Did not ourGurudeva use to say, ‘An empty stomach is no good for religion?’ We as a nation have lost our individuality and that is the cause of all mischief in India.”

Many call Mahatma Gandhi as the the father of the nation, but it was Swami Vivekananda who created the idea of an united India, he is the father of all modern freedom struggle.

Even Mahatma Gandhi acknowledged Vivekananda’s influence and for him, Vivekananda’s influence increased his “love for his country a thousandfold”. He also added that his whole life was an effort to bring into actions the ideas of Vivekananda.

The first governor general of independent India, Chakravarti Rajagopalachari, said “Vivekananda saved Hinduism, saved India.” According to Subhash Chandra Bose, Vivekananda “is the maker of modern India”. Till date we rightly celebrate National Youth Day in India on his birthday, January 12.
No one can capture what Vivekananda as a person is in a better way than what Subhash Chandra Bose said,

“ I cannot write about Vivekananda without going into raptures. Few indeed could comprehend or fathom him even among those who had the privilege of becoming intimate with him. His personality was rich, profound and complex… Reckless in his sacrifice, unceasing in his activity, boundless in his love, profound and versatile in his wisdom, exuberant in his emotions, merciless in his attacks but yet simple as a child, he was a rare personality in this world of ours ”

Aurobindo Ghose considered Vivekananda as his spiritual mentor.

“ Vivekananda was a soul of puissance if ever there was one, a very lion among men, but the definitive work he has left behind is quite incommensurate with our impression of his creative might and energy. We perceive his influence still working gigantically, we know not well how, we know not well where, in something that is not yet formed, something leonine, grand, intuitive, upheaving that has entered the soul of India and we say, “Behold, Vivekananda still lives in the soul of his Mother and in the souls of her children. ”

The French Nobel Laureate Romain Rolland writes ,

“His words are great music, phrases in the style of Beethoven, stirring rhythms like the march of Händel choruses. I cannot touch these sayings of his, scattered as they are through the pages of books, at thirty years’ distance, without receiving a thrill through my body like an electric shock. And what shocks, what transports, must have been produced when in burning words they issued from the lips of the hero!”

More than what others said and wrote about Vivekananda, the special thing about him is his own control of his life. He had remarked to several people that he would not live to be forty. Three days before he died, he told people where to cremate him, and on the day of his death he gave information to Swami Premananda concerning the future of the Ramakrishna Math. He then sat on mediation and passed away while he was meditating. There were blood specks in his eyes and nostrils, the doctors gave the reason for it as a rupture in a blood vessel in the brain but could not find any reason for that to happen. People in yogic tradition who attained great control of their chakras will leave their body through sahasrara chakra and when they do so, generally there will be a rupture in the blood vessel of the brain.

There are 1000s of books and websites on Swami Vivekananda, but the important thing is understanding what his thoughts and doing the right thing. If we need to achieve the society and the country that he dreamed of then, the first thing that we need to address is the hunger of the poor, there cannot be any spirituality or economic prosperity when there is hunger. When I talk about hunger, I am not talking about charity, charity can never be a solution for poverty, but until we work on the solution, doing charity is better than being indifferent to the poor.

Educated Indians and the Indians who live abroad should get in to endeavors that would create more job opportunities to the Indians. We don’t need money beyond a limit, the biggest thing that we can do through money, is not buying X or Y but to touch the lives of others especially the poor. Start the business of your interest in India, and if you think business is not your cup of tea then educate an underprivileged kid from India. That is the best we can do for this great nation and for heroes like Swami Vivekananda. The respect that we get when we travel abroad is not just because of our education and the skill sets we have but also because we come from the land of great heroes like Swami Vivekananda. There are Roads in US and Europe named after him.