If you ask any student, scholar or intellectual, as who is the one single personality who has been a symbol of Indian way of life, philosophy and spiritualism, the answer would be, Swami Vivekananda. He has influenced millions of youth not only in India but across the globe. No other icon has influenced the west with the Indian philosophy more than the true Karmayogi, Swami Vivekananda. His famous Chicago speech of 1893, re-opened flood gates for the quest for Indian way of life and living. It was a great moment for India since it sparked and revived a permanent interest of the west in the Vedantic-Philosophy.
His Neo-Vedantic philosophy starts with the question as to what is the purpose of human-life. For him the purpose of life is a life of purpose i.e a meaningful, selfless and serving life. Life is not just an existence but a life with a determined-effort to help and serve others. A successful life is nothing if it is not meaningful. A man can grow inside only if he grows others outside. It is not a life which is a secluded and away from active life. Rather, his philosophy is that of a Karamyogi who is active in serving humanity through selfless action.
His creed of Rastra-Nirman (nation-making) starts with Vyakti-Nirman (man-making). National character is nothing but the character of its citizens. So, the task of nation building starts with personality-development and character-building of its citizens. To make the nation great, we have to make the citizens making the nation, great. For this character-building is a must. As per him, character consists of 4 aspects that is physical, mental-emotional, social-national and spiritual.
The physical strength which includes fitness and health of countrymen has been hailed by him as the base on which the edifice of the human-personality rests. He said, “You will be nearer to heaven through football than through the study of the Gita.” True to the philosophy of a hail and hearty citizenry, Fit India Movement launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi is aimed at encouraging and motivating citizens and youth to remain healthy and fit by including physical activities and sports in their daily lives. In the same way, the invaluable gift of ancient traditions of Yoga which embodies unity of body and mind has been opened to the world since the Yoga Day was adopted following an inspirational speech and tactful projection of the Yoga by Sh. Modi in this regard in UN in 2014.
Besides being physically fit, Swami Vivekananda wanted the citizens to be intellectually and mentally fit and creative. As per him, all the powers in the universe are already ours. If the mind is intensely eager, everything can be accomplished—mountains can be crumbled into atoms. He said- take up one idea. Emote that idea, think that idea and live that idea. Make that idea a part of your life. Absorb yourself in that idea. Every moment and every neuron of your life be focused and laserised on that idea. You can be Karamyogi only when the mind is absorbed in those chosen flow of thoughts and only then success can be achieved. For the countrymen, officers and leaders; he suggested them to take service of nation as their prime-duty. For the resurrection of nationalism, Vivekananda’s focus is the youth. He advises the youth that anything that makes them weak physically, intellectually and spiritually, reject that as poison. Brave, bold people, these are what a great nation wants. What a nation wants of youth is vigor in the blood, strength in the nerves, iron muscles and nerves of steel, not softening namby-pamby ideas. Youth is the best time of life. The way in which you (Youth) utilize this period will decide the nature of coming years that lie ahead of you. He said, “Be not afraid of anything. You will do great work. The moment you fear, you are nobody. Fear is the greatest cause of misery in the world. Be fearlessness in whatever you do. Believe in that, do not believe that you are weak; Stand up and express the divinity within you. Therefore, arise, awake, and stop not till the goal is reached.” Following the ethos of Swami Vivekananda, the Modi government started “Mission Karmayogi (for young civil-servants), Skill India Mission, Make in India, Beti Bachao Beti Padhao, Digital India Mission, Start-up India and many more such missions so as to harness the capacity of the youth for the Nation-making with a chosen purpose of service to the nation and humankind.
To culture the habits of learning and developing intellectual skills, Vivekananda emphasized on the value based education. For him education is not just facts, figures and information rather, it is thoughts and ideas. Education is assimilation of life-building, man-making, character-making ideas. There should be a national education system, “The ideal is that we must have the whole education of our country, spiritual and secular, in our own hands, and it must be on national lines, through national methods.” The New Education Policy 2020, orients exactly this philosophy and aims at value based education which makes the student aware about the rich culture and history of India with an underlying purpose to build the national character of the students. True to value based education, it tries to enjoin theory with practical life , modernity with rich traditional knowledge.
Rightly hailed as the father of modern Indian-nationalism, he expounded the idea of Spiritual-nationalism. Swami Vivekananda’s nationalism is rooted and emanates from spiritualism. For national-awakening, religion is the way. For him religion is the blood of the veins of nation. He said, ‘’I am blessed that I took birth in such a great Hindu religion that assimiliates all religions. He believed that in India, religion has been a creative force in stability and national integration. He saw the spirituality as point of convergence for all religious forces of diverse India capable of unifying into a national current. He gave an idea of strength and fearlessness to Indians. He declared, ‘essence of my religion is strength’. For him the best form of worship was to see God in poor, the downtrodden, the sick and the ignorant and to serve them. National-resurrection in India can take place only through her age-old tradition of spiritual goal. He said- ‘’as the different streams having their sources in different places all mingle their water in the sea, so, O Lord, the different paths which men take, through different tendencies, various though they appear, crooked or straight, all lead to Thee!” and “Whosoever comes to Me, through whatsoever form, I reach him; all men are struggling through paths that in the end lead to Me.” For the creation of a New Bharat, Vivekananda called for a nationwide renovation with the ideals of ‘tyaga’ and ‘seva’. He says, “An empty stomach is no good for religion.” He prophesies that our first duty is duty for our motherland. For the people of Nation, he suggests to ‘Serve God in man’ and assimilates spiritualism with social service. He said, “For the next fifty years this alone shall be our keynote – this, our great Mother India. Let all other gods disappear for the time from our minds.” Vivekananda says that what is needed is “Chittashuddhi” or purification of the heart which can be achieved through serving and helping of those all around us. He asserted that “the first gods we have to worship are our countrymen.
Nationalism and universalism are the two pillars of his peaceful co-existence. . But nationalism is not parochialism and not confined to our own boundaries. Our nationalism is not a threat to universal-peace. He said, “Each nation has a destiny to fulfil, each nation has a message to deliver, each nation has a mission to accomplish. Therefore we must have to understand the mission of our own race, the destiny it has to fulfill, the place it has to occupy in the march of nations, the role which it has to contribute to the harmony of races”. The idea of “Ek Bharat, Shreshtha Bharat” following Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikas aims at making a modern and strong India in tandem with the ideal and idea Nationalism of Swami Vivekananda. He suggested Aatamnirbar Bharat whose material prosperity can be achieved through education and human-capital. He felt that the strength of India lies in its Agriculture and favored commercialization of agriculture for improving the income of the farmers. The recent Agricultural Reforms and focus of Budget-2021 on Agrarian-Sector bear testimony to the fact that emphasis of the Modi Government is for the modernization of the agriculture sector of India so as the income of the farmers can be increased. India can only be a Vishaw-Guru if it follows its path of spiritualism and its nationalism is aligned on the principal of Vasudev Katumbkam (universal brotherhood). During Corona period, India has not only been successful in saving its own population but is freely gifting medicines, kits, ventilators and doses of vaccination of Corona to scores of countries just to save the world from this pandemic following its ethos of Vasudev-Katumbkam.
(The writer is National General Secretary, BJP)