(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 Worse, imposition of outdated patterns of living by the silver hairs has made youths a sorry figure.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Swami Vivekananda believed that each soul is a “potentially divine soul” but misguided silver hairs with their outdated notions have turned these younger souls, bubbling with optimism, into a potentially destructive soul.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.