Making of Narendranath Dutta, Swami Vivekananda:
Narendranath Datta, later named as Swami Vivekananda, was born in Kolkata in an aristocratic family on 12th January, 1863 (died on 4th July, 102). His meeting with Sri Ramakrishna in 1880 changed the course of the life. Narendra was above the lure of Kamini Kanchana (lust and wealth) and dhayanasiddha – the grandeur of his renunciation and sincerity of his love for God. When family asked for matrimony, he would simply say that he was a monk, and that to him all women were as mother. He had a power of rapid reading and wonderful memory. Swamiji said that by observing strict Brahamacharya (continence) one could have not only an unfailing memory but mastery over all learning in a very short time. Once he said, “he had a special reverence for, RamaSita. He had also a great respect for Rama’s devoted servant, Hanuman.” He surrendered himself completely to Sri Ramakrishna as his guru, but it is certain that he took long time to do so. Gradually, “the doubting Naren was passing away; the devotional Naren, the spiritual Naren, the Hindu –was being born”. It was to Sri Ramakrishna that he owed his introduction to Hinduism. He had visions of god and goddesses etc. in the course of Sadhanas but they did not satisfy him. Once, he was meditating in a lying posture, when suddenly he felt that there was a great light at the back of his head, as he told.
After demise of Sri Ramakrishna, he performed Viraja Homa to assume sannyas. Swamiji had always been a seeker of super-physical knowledge and by dint of sadhanas carried on for years had reached great heights. Through the Master’s grace he had a taste of highest bliss (the nirvikalpa samadhi) but longed to have more of it. The master had tried to restrain him since, as he said, it had been revealed to him that his disciple was a nityasiddha, i.e. an ever liberated one., who had been born this time on earth for carrying special task that was willed by the divine mother. The “touch of earth” that he received during his years of travel in India “reinvigorated” him and in suffering humanity he recognized “the self that manifests itself in the universe”. He became Swami Vivekananda, who was prepared to be born again and again and share the miseries of mankind, so that he could serve the God who was the saint and the sinner and above all, the poor of all races – Daridranarayana. He went by ship to USA in 1893 to attend the Parliament of Religions of the world and raised the status of India.
In a speech delivered in California on 5th January, 1900, Swamiji said,
”the little that I gained (about meditation) I worked for thirty years of my life. It took me thirty years to learn it; thirty years of hard struggle. Sometimes I worked at it twenty hours during the twenty-four; sometimes I slept only one hour in the night; sometimes I worked whole night, sometimes I lived in places where there is hardly any sound.” Accordingly, he was seven years old when he began meditation.
He said each one of the yoga - work, wisdom, concentration and devotion, is capable of serving as direct and independent means for the attainment of freedom. However, he felt that a combination of all the four paths of liberation i.e. Path of Karma yoga (Self actions), Path of Jnana yoga (discrimination & dispassion), Path of Raja Yoga (meditation & Japa) and Path of Bhakti Yoga (devotion to chosen ideal), produce balanced character, free from the possible defects of each of the exclusive paths – the heartless of intellectuals, bigotry of the emotionalist, aloofness of meditative and arrogance of the active.
There is possible danger in the path of Jnana yoga to become dry intellectualism and in the path of bhakti yoga to lead to meaningless sentimentalism. He recommended development of will and concentration. An average mind is frittered away or is spread out on too many things.
Sri Vivekananda recommended service to the poor countrymen as veritable deities with in spirit of worship. Service originates from fullness of heart. Through heart comes inspiration. Love opens most impossible gates; love is the gate to all the secrets of the universe. Seeing God in society becomes spiritual discipline. Service of society becomes service to the God. Hence, he made spirituality practical.
He suggested the three stages of karma. These stages make work to worship i.e. ‘work and worship’, ‘work as worship’ and ‘work is worship’.
The gist of all worship is to be pure and to do good to others. He who sees Siva in the poor, in the weak, and in the deceased really worships Siva; and if he sees Siva only in the image, his worship is, but preliminary.
The mere act of giving medicine or education to the suffering or ignorant is not spiritual but accompanying thought that God is in humans, makes the whole work worship. This kind of attitude towards work purifies mind. Purified mind dawns knowledge or love of God.
Philosophy to Service - Worship in Temples to Practical worship:
“Service cannot degenerate into charity”, He said. A person becomes charitable either to get rid of beggar or to get name and fame or if it is a purer motive, out of sympathy. Altruistic actions are performed for one’s own sake. The ideal of service is inspired by reverence and humility. The giver thanks to the receiver and the receiver stand up and permit. The worshipper can only serve and adore, not pity and help. No service is small, for all work is God’s service and he takes as much care of the means as of the end.
Swamiji wrote in a letter, “I desire not the supreme state with all its eight siddhis, may I assume the sorrow of all creatures that suffer and enter into them so that may be made free from grief. I have lost all wish for my salvation, may I born again and again and suffer thousands of miseries so that I may worship the only God that exists, the only God that I believe in, and the sum total of all souls.”
He exhorted. Unfurl the banner of love! ‘Arise, awake, and stop not till the goal is reached. Nothing can be done without renunciation. If one wants to help others, one’s little self (ego) must go. He said: ‘throw away everything, even your own salvation, and go and help others.’
Swami Vivekananda identified the following important qualities of human being:
To Swamiji patriotism was an expression of true worship and loving to fellowmen, a means to the realization of the highest. He said: renunciation and service are the national ideals of India.
Swami Vevekananda asked, ‘do you feel that millions are starving today, and millions have been starving for ages’. Does it make restless? Does it make you sleepless? Are you seized with that idea of the misery of ruins, and you have forgotten all about your name, your fame, your wives, your children, your property, even your own bodies? Have you done that? This is the first step towards service, service to the nation.
Swami Vivekananda put the maximum emphasis on training and education. He said: the chief cause of India’s ruin has been the monopolizing of the whole education and intelligence of the land among a handful of men. If we are to rise again, we shall have to do it by spreading education among the masses. He further said: so long as the millions live in hunger and ignorance, I hold every a traitor who, having been educated at their expense. Education is not the collection of information but liberation of inexhaustible inner potentialities of the person.
The education will be best, if it is given through religion. Spiritual training is essential in any educational scheme. The medium should be vernaculars. Education should be given orally by telling stories, history, globes, charts, posters etc. and through audio-visual means. The teachers must go to the villagers instead of expecting the villagers to come to them. This is the duty to the community.
He stressed that educationist of India must learn the lesson from ancient rishis and regenerate the ancient gurukula system with the brahmacharya idea of austerity, virtues and continence for the students.
Theoretically everybody is same. But it must be only in mind and never in practice. Wipe off this blot. The same soul resides in all. This is the basis for the equality in the rights of enjoyment. More the privileges, more is the intensity of tyranny.