Swami Vivekananda

JAN 13

Preliminary   > Modern Indian History   >   Personalities   >   Social reformers

Why in news?

  • Every year on January 12, India celebrates National Youth Day to mark the birth anniversary of Swami Vivekananda.

About Swami Vivekananda:

  • Narendranath Datta (1862-1902), who later came to be known as Swami Vivekananda spread Ramakrishna’s message and tried to reconcile it to the needs of contemporary Indian society.
  • He emerged as the preacher of neo-Hinduism.

Contributions:

  • Certain spiritual experiences of Ramakrishna, the teachings of the Upanishads and the Gita and the examples of the Buddha and Jesus are the basis of Vivekananda’s message to the world about human values.
  • He subscribed to the Vedanta which he considered a fully rational system with a superior approach.
  • His mission was to bridge the gulf between paramartha (service) and vyavahara (behaviour), and between spirituality and day-to-day life.
  • Vivekananda believed in the fundamental oneness of God and said, “For our own motherland a junction of the two great systems, Hinduism and Islam, is the only hope.”
  • He lamented the isolationist tendencies and the touch-me-not attitude of Hindus in religious matters.

Advocated for social action

  • Emphasising social action, he declared that knowledge without action is useless.
  • He frowned at religion’s tacit approval of the oppression of the poor by the rich. He believed that it was an insult to God and humanity to teach religion to a starving man.
  • He pointed out that the masses needed two kinds of knowledge—secular knowledge about how to work for their economic uplift and the spiritual knowledge to have faith in themselves and strengthen their moral sense.
  • He called upon his countrymen to imbibe a spirit of liberty, equality and free thinking

Balance between spiritualism and materialism

  • At the Parliament of Religions held at Chicago in 1893, Swami Vivekananda made a great impression on people by his learned interpretations.
  • The keynote of his opening address was the need for a healthy balance between spiritualism and materialism.
  • Envisaging a new culture for the whole world, he called for a blend of the materialism of the West and the spiritualism of the East into a new harmony to produce happiness for mankind.

Ramakrishna Mission

  • In 1897 he founded the Ramakrishna Mission. Vivekananda was a great humanist and used the Ramakrishna Mission for humanitarian relief and social work.
  • The Mission stands for religious and social reform. Vivekananda advocated the doctrine of service—the service of all beings. The service of jiva (living objects) is the worship of Siva. Life itself is religion. By service, the Divine exists within man. Vivekananda was for using technology and modern science in the service of mankind.
  • The Mission has developed into a worldwide organisation. It is a deeply religious body, but it is not a proselytising body. It does not consider itself to be a sect of Hinduism. In fact, this is one of the strong reasons for the success of the Mission.
  • Unlike the Arya Samaj, the Mission recognises the utility and value of image worship in developing spiritual fervour and worship of the eternal omnipotent God, although it emphasises on the essential spirit and not the symbols or rituals.
  • It believes that the philosophy of Vedanta will make a Christian a better Christian, and a Hindu a better Hindu.
  • It was in 1898 that Swami Vivekananda acquired a large piece of land at Belur where the Ramakrishna Math was finally shifted and registered as such.
  • The monastic order is open to all men without discrimination on the basis of caste or creed

PRACTICE QUESTION:

Consider the following statements regarding ‘Swami Vivekananda’:

1. He founded the Ramakrishna Mission

2. He attempted to combine Indian spirituality with Western material progress.

Which of the statements given above is/are correct?

(a) 1 only

(b) 2 only

(c) Both 1 and 2

(d) Neither 1 nor 2

Answer