(These are excerpts from the speech delivered by Arvind K.Pandey at Jagat Taran Girls Degree College, Allahabad, on January 12, 2014 in a programme organised by Kritisankalpa Society to celebrate birth anniversary of Swami Vivekananda. Other notable speakers who expressed their views on this occasion included Swami Nikhilatmananda, President, Ramakrsihna Mission, Allahabad; Justice Rajesh Tandon, Chairman, National Human Rights Commission, Uttarakhand; Justice. Palok Basu (Retd.), Allahabad High Court; Dr. Milan Mukherjee; Devendra Tiwari and Senior Advocate Ashok Mehta.)
Today we find that youths are at the receiving end of so many challenging issues.The transition phase has introduced them to complex living patterns, which has left them high and dry. They not only remain the most exploited lot but also remain frustrated and depressed. That’s because pressure to perform is at its peak in materialistic times. They are unable to choose right means of survival. Worse, imposition of outdated patterns of living by the silver hairs has made youths a sorry figure. Against this backdrop, the values shared by Swami Vivekananda seem to be last ray of hope as they infuse within the being supreme confidence and positive feelings.
Swami Vivekananda truly recognized the potential of youths. He always believed that “strong, vigorous, believing young men, sincere to the backbone” can change the face of globe. “A hundred such and the world becomes revolutionized.” However, when we look at the state of affairs prevalent in their lives, it leaves any thinking soul quite worried and sad. Very recently, police entered inside the campus of Allahabad University and students got beaten black and blue with laathis as if they were hardcore criminals and not innocent students. If you hear about the experiences of these youths, you would be in great pain to hear about their exploitation. Acharya Manu rightly states that silver hairs alone do not constitute wisdom but in Kaliyuga the white hairs have become confirmed sign of knowledge! No wonder they are always in conflict with younger generation. They are more often than not involved in quashing the innovative spirit of youths, leading to dissipation of enthusiasm from the lives of youths.
Swami Vivekananda believed that each soul is a “potentially divine soul” but misguided silver hairs with their outdated notions have turned these younger souls, bubbling with optimism, into a potentially destructive soul. Swami Vivekananda possessed a revolutionary spirit who had dared to ask uncomfortable questions from older lot. He rightly believed that “each generation should be inspired afresh” and “men should not be taught to imitate a personal ideal, however great”. One of the fatal errors committed by older generation is that it tries to impose its views all in name of sharing experience.
Some of the well-made flicks like Three Idiots, Rang De Basanti, Bhaag Milkha Bhaag, and Paan Singh Tomar, to name a few, capture well the conflicts generated by old minds in the lives of youths. It’s evident that optimism and energy found in youths deeply impresses any conscious thinker of Vivekananda’s stature interested in creating new order of things.” My faith is in the younger generation, the modern generation, out of them will come my workers. They will work out the whole problem, like lions.” It’s another thing that in a nation which prefers argumentative tradition-something highly praised by Amartya Sen-the youths get tamed on one pretext or another.
The lives of youths seem to have got trapped in ills of modernity. Or, why else are we seeing advertisements related with prevention of AIDS on National Youth Day? Isn’t this sad reminder of the fact that there has been erosion of values among the youths? Or is this indicative of fact that things have gone out of control since what was once upon a time treated as immoral has gained some sort of acceptance in Indian society? Whatever it is, it indicates crisis of values. We also need to accept that priorities of youths have changed and their role models have also changed. Their role models are the ones which do not inspire them to be do good and be good. They are the ones which encourage them to earn name and fame within short span of time. So what’s the role of a spiritual powerhouse amid this new set of perceptions?
Even if we take into account new changes that have hit the lives of youths, there is still much space left for spirituality. That’s because materialism cannot give them real peace of mind. It cannot quench the thirst which exists inside our soul. No wonder youths have been hit hard by giant dragon called depression. Let’s also not forget that India is land of discovering inner peace. It’s not the land to multiply external source of happiness. And so likes of Swami Vivekananda would always be influencing our lives. They are the ones who keep us above from the realm of negativism. Youths are depressed because external world has limited means of satiating one’s desires, wherein seekers are more than suppliers! On the other hand, the inner world is infinite in nature and the competition to own this inner world is less. So people in race of inner peace have greater chances to remain happy than the majority which is in the race to conquer external world.
Swami Vivekananda’s views will always remain relevant among youths since they enable the youths to rectify their approach towards life. They rejuvenate our dull spirit, by making us shift attention from the external world to inner world and in the process this great truth gets revealed: “The aim of life is to realize God…He alone is real and everything else is false…Religion is realization.” And once you attain realization you come to feel every moment that” all power is within you, you can do anything and everything.”
P.S.: This post also appeared in Northern India Patrika On January 18, 2014.
It really fills my heart with bliss that this part of the world originally hailed as Aryavrata, now known as Bharat (India), has always produced evolved souls, having the capacity to delve deep into the world of mysticism in effortless manner- a reason why this part of the land is viewed with great wonder by people living in the other part of the hemisphere. I often meet yogis/saints, witnessing many such mysterious phenomenon related with world of Yoga, but this feeling saddens me that, back in past, when great saints and spiritually advanced yogis, roamed on this land quite frequently, I wasn’t fortunate enough to be the part of that era! It’s interesting to note that these great souls played different roles as per need of the society. Some roamed in jungles, some lived in caves, some lived as householder, and some became part of mainstream affairs, even as they retained their ascetic robes, to shape the destiny of Bharat-the land of divine principles.
True, many fake Gurus, have turned religion into a most lucrative affair, but it remains ultimate truth that India is intrinsically wedded to yogic principles. This land, in absence of spiritual values, would not be able to survive. May be currents of time sometimes lead to clash of values, but this nation has the capacity to absorb contradictions and conflicts in easygoing way. Like myself, others too, would have not believed the glory of Indian spiritual world, had saints like Swami Vivekananda not appeared in the modern phase of civilization. His presence was certain sign of the fact that supreme consciousness was still in operation. Swami Vivekananda removed my doubt that great yogis were mainly confined to storybooks; that great tales of yogic feats were exaggerated description of imaginative minds. However, after reading life-sketch of, Sri Aurobindo, I became truly confirmed that people in league with extraordinary psychic powers, were not only part of ancient India but they were very much part of modern India as well.
However, today I wish to remain confined to world of Swami Vivekananda, since on this very day, 12 January, 1863, this Avatara of Lord Shiva, manifested on earthly plane. He was an extraordinary person in his lifetime but one who had normal childhood. He involved in naughty pranks like any other child of that age. However, the thing that separated him from others was that he frequently got absorbed in higher form of consciousness. As he grew up and took admission in college life, he was the one who loved to read various philosophies, roped in by great teachers in past. In other words, he remained hooked to intellectual plane alone! That was not the final destination of a great mind like him placed on route to realization. The Updesha Vakyas (Directive Statements) found in Upanishads were yet to culminate into Anubhuti Vakyas or Anubhava Vakyas ( realized truths).
A great truth of the world of spirituality is that a willing seeker or a qualified seeker soon comes to find a Guru (The Master). The same thing happened with Swami Vivekananda, when he met with Sri Ramakrishna. Naturally, that turned out to be life-defining moment for Swami Vivekananda. He soon emerged as a realized soul. In fact, he was always a realized soul and able Guru like Sri Ramakrishna merely ensured that ignorance inside him which made him see himself as ordinary mortal get vanished for forever. It’s interesting to note that in pre-Independence era, we had host of great spiritual souls, who ensured that India’s journey in future as independent nation takes place amid certain special values. The Western world, and we Indians too, remember him mainly because of his great speech at Parliament of the World’s Religions, delivered on 11 September 1893, in Chicago. Not many are aware of the fact that it wasn’t a smooth journey and there was lack of funds to sponsor this visit, and surprisingly, he was not allowed to participate in the conference because of lack of endorsement from a well known organisation. It was only after the intervention of Professor John Henry Wright of Harvard University he got the chance to participate in this conference. Wright was so taken aback that he had to say: “To ask for your credentials is like asking the sun to state its right to shine in the heavens.”
Anyway, a soul of his stature, does not appear on earth for attainment of petty goals. He arrived to make supreme consciousness part of this land, which appears to be heart of the universe. If it stops functioning, the other civilizations are bound to collapse one after another. Although if one has a close look at the life of Swami Vivekananda, one would notice that he suffered life-long at the hands of mediocre minds but today when he is now no more in physical form, his own words have come true that real significance of his achievements would manifest after many years of his death. I must say that now when India is struggling hard to keep its ancient identity- the land of spirituality- intact, the words of Swami Vivekananda offer great solace, great strength. In other words, his thoughts and thoughts of other great minds are keeping at bay values antithetical to its spiritual essence. These great souls have now become active at subtle level, considering the way we have begun to realize that their thoughts alone could brighten our lives marred by ills of materialism.
It’s upon us that we either follow their way and emerge as an evolved being or ignore their wisdom to emerge as “dirty picture” of crass values. “All the powers in universe are already ours. It is we who have put our hands before our eyes and cry that it is dark.” (Swami Vivekananda). Isn’t it the right thing to live life in light of these great values? Is there any merit in dying like a retarded lamb when you could have always roared like a lion? Let’s attempt for such huge transformation from this very moment.
The messages of Krishna offer great solace to us in present times marred by confusion and disorder of worst types. I know it’s one of the easiest tasks to read the great words. It’s proper reflection and subsequent action plans that really matters in the long run. However, such shortcomings on part of human beings do not make these words lose relevance. Even a casual approach on our part while dealing with these pearls of wisdom proves to be a meaningful gesture.
A beginning is something that really matters. It’s better to be part of the journey than remain always trapped in a statue mode. In most cases, the beginning is often in the form of casual interactions with words spoken by enlightened souls. Have you noticed that when we are journeying we often read great messages posted on walls of railway stations? You are in great hurry but even then these words manage to catch your attention. From that very moment a reflection takes place birth inside your mind which if given conscious direction on part of us could lead to miraculous transformation.
So on this occasion when the world is celebrating the birth of Lord Krishna, let’s try to reconnect with Him for one more time via his messages. In lighter vein, Lord Krishna is representative of Absolute Self that’s above birth and death, and still we celebrate his birth with great fanfare. But is it that easy to keep the great charmer Krishna away from one’s life whose very name means the one who has power to attract us-the attractive one?
In the end, I wish to quote the words of Sri Aurobindo Ghosh to make us aware of the worth of messages spread in The Bhagavad Gita. According to Sri Aurobindo Ghosh one should always remember Krishna’s teaching because it ensures “perfection of action. It makes man great. It gives him the utter strength, the utter bliss which is the goal of life in the world.
na tyajyam karyam eva tat
yajno danam tapas caiva
-Bhagavad Gita 18.5
“Acts of sacrifice, charity and penance are not to be given up; they must be performed. Indeed, sacrifice, charity and penance purify even the great souls.”
kascid yatati siddhaye
yatatam api siddhanam
kascin mam vetti tattvatah
– Bhagavad Gita 7.3
“Out of many thousands among men, one may endeavor for perfection, and of those who have achieved perfection, hardly one knows Me in truth.”
gatir bharta prabhuh saksi
nivasah saranam suhrt
prabhavah pralayah sthanam
nidhanam bijam avyayam
– Bhagavad Gita 9.18
“I am the goal, the sustainer, the master, the witness, the abode, the refuge, and the most dear friend. I am the creation and the annihilation, the basis of everything, the resting place and the eternal seed.”
ananyas cintayanto mam
ye janah paryupasate
yoga-ksemam vahamy aham
– Bhagavad Gita 9.22
“But those who always worship Me with exclusive devotion, meditating on My transcendental form—to them I carry what they lack, and I preserve what they have.”
tvam aksharam paramam veditavyam
tvam asya vishvasya param nidhanam
tvam avyayah sasvata-dharma-gopta
sanatanas tvam purusho mato me
- Bhagavad Gita 11.18
“You are the supreme primal objective. You are the ultimate resting place of this entire universe. You are inexhaustible, and You are the oldest. You are the maintainer of the eternal religion, the Personality of Godhead. This is my opinion.”
yam hi na vyathayanty ete
so ’mrtatvaya kalpate
-Bhagavad Gita 2.15
“O best among men [Arjuna], the person who is not disturbed by happiness and distress and is steady in both is certainly eligible for liberation.”
daivi hy esa guna-mayi
mama maya duratyaya
mam eva ye prapadyante
mayam etam taranti te
- Bhagavad Gita 7.14
“This divine energy of Mine, consisting of the three modes of material nature, is difficult to overcome. But those who have surrendered unto Me can easily cross beyond it.”
tam eva saranam gaccha
tat-prasadat param shantim
sthanam prapsyasi sasvatam
- Bhagavad Gita 18.62
“O scion of Bharata, surrender unto Him utterly. By His grace you will attain transcendental peace and the supreme and eternal abode.”
The Hindu scriptures have dealt with the rebirth phenomenon much earlier than any other modern civilization. The Vedas, Upanishads, and, above all, Bhagavad-gita, especially its chapter 2 & 6, have dissected this complex issue in a scientific and clinical manner. Assuring Arjuna not to worry about the fate of his body Krishna says ,” For the soul there is never birth nor death .Nor, having once been does he ever cease to be. He is unborn, eternal, ever-existing, undying and primeval. He is not slain when the body is slain.”(Bhagavad-gita 2.20)
Our psuedo -secularists and worshipers of scientific superstitions might make these declarations butt of ridicule but leading thinkers in past have come to held the insights of Indian sages in high esteem. For instance,Emerson states that ‘ The soul comes from without into the human body,as into a temporary abode,and it goes out of it anew…it passes into other habitations,for the soul is immortal.’ Even Socrates is not afraid to conclude that ‘I am confident that these truly is such a thing as living again,that the living spring from the dead,and that the souls of the dead are in existence.’
Tolstoy who believes that fate of man is to morph into God categorically states that ‘ As we live through thousands of dreams in our present life,so is our present life only one of many thousands of such lives which we enter from the other more real life …and then return after death.’ One hopes we learn to respect and honour our cultural legacy in an intelligent fashion rather than criticizing it to be in tune with with modernity !
I am compelled, compelled to remember this famous line of a song sung by Amitabh Bachchan “Jo hai naamwalah wohi to badnam hai”( people having name and fame are the ones who are infamous). It’s favourite past time of the media across the globe to paint the image of Sri Sathya Sai Baba in wrong colours. The media pursuing holier-than-thou attitude always gave more preference to “Vibhuti” and “materializations” than acknowledging his good work done for the humanity. There was always an attempt to downsize his persona by the so-called rationalists, who always questioned his miracles. I am not taken aback by such attempts. It’s nowadays fashion for the skeptics to display their so-called scientific zeal, whenever their egos get crushed by the happenings beyond their realm of understanding.
I am also no great believer in miracles of Sri Sathya Sai Baba. However, I am not passive to good works done by this person treated as Bhgavan(God) by his followers, spread in various part of the world. I am really surprised that people of our times refuse to be inspired by the good acts but leave no stone unturned in projecting the dubious acts. The world would be a better place if we learn to do some better work by taking note of better happenings around us instead of shedding tears in vain by noticing negative happenings around us. It’s really hard to believe that Sathyanarayana Raju born on Nov. 23, 1926 at Puttaparthi, falling under Madras Presidency of British India, attained heights as Sri Sathya Sai Baba merely with the help of miracles of various kinds.
He was indeed better than greedy politicians like Madhu Kauda, charged with laundering money worth over Rs 4000 crores all in the name of serving the nation. He was indeed a greater well wisher of the nation than likes of Suresh Kalmadi and A Raja who misused their positions and played with pride of nation. Have a look at some of the good works done by this person. He is responsible for giving birth to free educational institutions, hospitals, and other charitable works in nearly 166 countries.
Sri Sathya Sai Institute of Higher Learning at Prashanthi Nilayam and Sri Sathya Sai Institute of Higher Medical Sciences at Puttaparthi and Bangalore are doing excellent job. In fact, the National Assessment and Accreditation Council has given Sri Sathya Sai Institute of Higher Learning ” A++” rating. However, the most terrific work in my eyes had been his drinking water projects. One such project that got completed in 1996 supplies water to 1.2 million people in about 750 villages in the drought-prone Anantapur district in Andhra Pradesh. Around Rs 200 crore was spent on this project. Similar water projects also got completed in Tamil Nadu. In 2009 Sri Sathya Sai Seva Organization as part of relief measures built 699 houses as a part of their first phase in 16 villages in Orissa, which suffered heavily because of floods in 2008.
I really pity the souls who ignore the real charisma (glory) of this wonderful soul and instead spend their time an energy in quashing his beliefs. I have not that much energy and since time is precious, I feel it’s better I took note of his good works. That would, at least, help me in making world a shade better. Let this great soul now rest in God’s peace.
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