Swami Vivekananda needs no introduction, for his is a household name in India. Swamiji was one of the greatest spiritual leaders of the modern world, a great lover of humanity whose unconditional love extended to all people without any distinctions of caste, class, creed, race, region or religion. Swami Vivekananda is also remembered as a great patriot, the first cultural ambassador of India to the West, who raised the prestige of India in the eyes of Western people and changed their views about India with the compelling force to truth.
Swamiji was the first great leader of India to diagnose the cause of India’s downfall as the neglect of the poor, downtrodden masses of India, and to declare boldly, “No amount of politics will be of any avail until the masses of India are once more well educated, well fed and well cared for.” Indeed, he was the first spokesman for the poor in India and coined the word “Daridranarayana” which was given currency later on by Mahatma Gandhi.
Swami Vivekananda was the great awakener of the Soul of India in Modern times, whose magnificent personality and electrifying words infused faith and courage, love and sympathy, service and sacrifice in the hearts of millions of Indians. Swamiji was one of one of the builders of Modern India whose words and deeds profoundly influenced the lives and thinking of the great founding fathers of Indian Independence like Mahatma Gandhi, Jawaharlal Nehru, Subhash Chandra Bose, Rajagopalachari and others.
Swami Vivekananda made important contributions to the modern world. First comes his contributions to Hinduism. Formerly the deep truths lying in ancient Hindu scriptures like the Upanishads were beyond the reach of ordinary people. It was Swami Vivekananda who interpreted those sacred scriptures in the modern idiom and made them available to common people. Before Swamiji came, Hindu sects were quarrelling among themselves. Swamiji showed that all Hindu sects have certain common principles and, on that basis, Swamiji brought about unity among Hindus. Swamiji’s contributions to the creation of modern India has been acknowledged by the great political leaders of pre-independent India.
Swami Vivekananda was one of the great thinkers of the modern world, and has made important contributions to the world thought also. Swamiji’s message of potential Divinity of the soul, faith in man’s inner Self as the source of infinite strength, morality, freedom and joy; his message of seeing God in all, work as worship, service to man as service to God; his
message of synthesis of yogas and all-round development of human personality; his message of harmony of religions, harmony of religion science, harmony of the East and the West—this is precisely the message that the present world, especially the youth of our country needs.
Above all, Swami Vivekananda, in spite of his own individual greatness, in spite of the fame and adoration that he received in India and in the West, regarded himself only as a humble messenger of his Guru and Master, known to the world as Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa. This humility, this utter faith in the Guru, and his devotion to God, his love for India, love for humanity and dedication of his life to the service of suffering people, have set a shining example for modern man to emulate.
Needless to say, the 150th birth anniversary of such a great personage as Swami Vivekananda needs to be celebrated in a fit and proper manner appropriate to his universally respected stature as a world teacher, thinker, leader, prophet, pathfinder and benefactor of humanity. The Ramakrishna Math and Ramakrishna Mission are gearing up for this.