Swami Vivekananda --- His connection with National Youth Day and World Brotherhood Day
A Great Soul
Birth Anniversary of Swami Vivekananda
12th January, 2011 was the 148th Birth Anniversary of Swami Vivekananda. On that day the Indian Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh inaugurated a program held by the Ramakrishna Mission at Vigyan Bhavan, New Delhi. It was the inaugural program of a wonderful plan of conducting a two year long project to commemorate the 150th Birth Anniversary of Swamiji which falls on 12th January, 2013. The Ramakrishna Mission has planned to organize different types of program in two years such as: work to eliminate poverty, projects for integrated child development and children’s health by eliminating undernourishment. Other plans are empowerment of women, distribute books on Swami Vivekananda to various libraries and even conduct seminars on the contributions of Swamiji relating to Indian and international cultures at different national and international venues. The plan also includes a wish to produce a film on Vivekananda. Essay and drawing competitions relating to Vivekananda and his thoughts and much more are in the pipe line of celebrating the occasion was decided upon.
National Youth Day
In India, 12th January which is the birthday of Swami Vivekananda is also known as the National Youth Day. In 1984, the Government of India took up a decision to observe the birthday of Swamiji (12th January) as the National Youth Day. It was observed for the first time in 1985. I am sure; many would like to know that why Swamiji’s birth anniversary is named upon the youths while we all know that he was a saint. He was a great religious and spiritual teacher of India who took Hinduism to a global platform. Then, what inspired the Government of India to name it as the National Youth Day. Definitely, there is a great and deep connection between Swami Vivekananda and the youths. We can easily understand this connection if we read the following statement issued by the Government of India while declaring 12th January as the National Youth Day. The statement says:
“…. it was felt that the philosophy of Swamiji and the ideals for which he lived and worked could be a great source of inspiration for the Indian Youths.”
What made Vivekananda a Youth Icon?
Just imagine, a man born on 12th January 1863 and died on 4th July 1902 at the age of 39 which were the pre-independent years of India but still considered as the youth icon. A religious and spiritual teacher of his stature who let the world knew about Hinduism for the first time in the Parliament of Religions held in Chicago in 1893. His first address, at the Parliament of Religions on 11th September 1893, as “Sisters and Brothers of America!” to a huge gathering of almost 7000 people received a standing ovation. He was not a fanatic Hindu but always advocated that religion should be used to enhance humanity. He believed that “All the religions are true”. He taught about God and what does the Hindu religion mean but never criticized any other religion because he believed in mankind which is the ultimate truth of the Hindu religion that which is preached in Vedanta and God is the supreme power. Vivekananda spread the message of brotherhood and his address on 11th September, 1893 named 11th September as World Brotherhood Day. Remember, he was only thirty years old but inspired the people world wide.
Swami Vivekananda never remained at one place but roamed about and always tried to help people in distress. While he travelled within India he noticed the poor state of the people and eventually his motherland, India. He was very disturbed and wanted the motherland to become independent. Teachings of Swamiji were always very inspirational. Whatever he said on any particular issue or told any story to explain a situation was extremely affirmative, encouraging and very motivating. The best part of his addresses and different statements which were meant for a particular section of people have evoked inspiration not only for that section of people but people at large. An invocation made by Swamiji to the youths of India for the independence of our motherland, India as: “What we want are some young men who will renounce everything and sacrifice their lives for their country’s sake.” worked as a wake up call to the youths of India during the British rule to join the freedom movement of India.
I quote few lines from a long list of inspirational statements by Vivekananda. They are as follows:
- “Arise, awake and stop not till the goal is reached”
- “He alone who is always awake to the idea of freedom becomes free.”
- “Nothing can give you freedom, if you have it not.”
- “The greatest sin is to think yourself weak.”
- “No action can give you freedom; only knowledge can make you free.”
- “Never lose faith in yourself; you can do anything in the universe.”
- “Whatever you think, that you will be: If you think yourselves weak, weak you will be; if you think yourselves strong, strong you will be.”
- “He who struggles is better than he who never attempts.”
- “We want that education by which character is formed, strength of mind is increased, the intellect is expanded, and by which one can stand on one’s own feet.”
- “They alone live who live for others, the rest are more dead than alive.”
Swami Vivekananda's Highly Inspirational Messages to the Youths
Swamiji was always in search of real youth. By the word 'real youth' he never meant by those young persons who have reached that stage considering age and physical appearance. Rather his definition of a real youth is those who are young with full of energy, strength, intellect, and well built body. He always believed that the youths by age and physique if transformed into 'real youths' then they will break all the hurdles which come in the way of growth and betterment. Vivekananda expressed his extreme confidence about the transformation from youth to 'real youth' through his statement: "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."
I plead to the youths on the National Youth Day, on January 12 that follow the words of Swamiji to get to your goals. Be inspired by his words: "Stand up, be bold, be strong. Take the whole responsibility on your own shoulders, and know that you are the creator of your own destiny." He always wanted the youths to discover their inner strength. He never gave importance only to that knowledge which is gained from books but also knowledge from practical experience and wanted the youths to face the different challenges of life by their own inner strength that means a self confidence. In this regard he conveyed his opinion in these words: "All power is within you; you can do anything and everything. Believe in that, do not believe that you are weak. Stand up and express the divinity within you."
As I have mentioned above that to learn about India more deeply Vivekananda went on journey to different parts of the country. During this tour he got completely disturbed by the plight of his countrymen in various places. The fragile condition of the youths shattered him a lot. In this connection he gave a strong message to the youths whose ill health shocked him: "First of all, our young men must be strong. Religion will come afterwards. Be strong my young friends; that is my advice to you. You will be nearer to Heaven through football than through the study of the Gita. These are my bold words, but I have to say them, for I love you. You will understand the Gita better with your biceps, your muscles, a little stronger. You will understand the mighty genius and the mighty strength of Krishna better with a little of strong blood in you."
Thus, the few quoted messages of Swami Vivekananda which were addressed to the youths of this country ask the youths to come out of all the poor conditions in their personal lives as well as do something good for their motherland, India. Vivekananda was a great social and religious reformer of India but the most interesting trait he had shown was that he never gave importance to religion before inner self, country and awakening of men.
Are we following Swamiji today?
The above written quotations of Swami Vivekananda must have inspired you then imagine he had delivered many more which are equally motivating. In his days they were inspirational but if we go through them now, in this luxurious world, then too those sayings seem to be very relevant.
At present, Anti Corruption movement has substituted Freedom Movement but how many youths are leading it. The members who are fighting against corruption to them I pose a question, how many belief and follow the sayings by Vivekananda from their heart. As for example: “What we want are some young men who will renounce everything and sacrifice their lives for their country’s sake.”
Though in the 21st century, but still India is facing many evil traditions in the society which can be easily eliminated by the support and protest by the youths such as dowry system and dowry death, illiteracy, communal conflicts, killing of girl child, honour killing, domestic violence of all types and many more. Alas! It is increasing day by day.
Youths of Today
The path which the Indian youths are following is a serious concern, I feel. Definitely, many are successful but what about the majority in the whole country. The top level students are focused and successful but the mediocre ones? The focus is also used in a very narrow sense. Earning huge money, living a luxurious life, reaching a top slot, become richer and more powerful individual are the ultimate thought process of the youths, but, is it for this Swamiji awakened us?
He said “live for others” but why the number of old age homes is increasing? Even so many aged citizens are living alone in their residence and the worst part is the criminals are taking the advantage of it and many aged citizens are getting murdered too. This is not the end even the aged members of the family are ill treated by the earning youths. Sometimes it leads to domestic violence too against the aged people. The successful youths are spending money exorbitantly in pubs and clubs while the number of homeless and poverty stricken people is increasing too and even gets killed while sleeping on the pavements due to the rash driving by the youths. We have people unlimited with torn clothes, no warm clothes, no medical care but the youths are blind towards them. The fast speed of technology has made them self centred.
The mediocre students are busy in settling their own requirements because they are so much burdened as everything is so expensive. They lack strength to fight these curses. Then, what happened to the awakening messages of Swami Vivekananda? It seems, these messages are only found in the books now and not in real life.
Everyone has a role to play
Just naming a day as National Youth Day will not serve the purpose. It is not only the duty of the Ramakrishna Mission to enlighten the youths of India through their different awakening programs but the government, high profile people as well as teachers and guides must work together for an overall enlightenment of the youths. It is not a matter of one day or a single motivating speech on the birth anniversary of Swami Vivekananda. Let all who understands a little bit of Vivekananda can come up with the awakening process in their own way. For example: The parents can definitely try to awaken their children by explaining the awakening messages of Vivekananda. I am sure one day the children will respond positively.
Wake up! People of the World
Why to talk about the youths of India only? Vivekananda who received the standing ovation at the Parliament of Religions in Chicago on 11th September in 1893 due to his famous address: “Sisters and Brothers of America!” is seemed to be forgotten by the people of the world. 11th September is celebrated as World Brotherhood Day and Swamiji always preached a lesson of brotherhood then why racial killings, murders in the name of religion, enmity and so on are in the rise.
The whole world is giving a miss to his awakening. His inspirational statements and speeches are heard in the seminars and discussions but it is very low in action. Are we waiting for the rebirth of Vivekananda to awaken ourselves? Can’t we all refresh ourselves as we refresh our computers and put the thoughts of Swami Vivekananda in action for a better world to live in? Let Indians celebrate the National Youth Day in true sense and not for the sake of it. The youths of India will definitely rise and awake if all the seniors follow Swamiji in honest form. Let us all try in our own way and pay tribute to this great soul in true sense and make a meaningful National Youth Day.
Swami Vivekananda, an Inspirational Personality
My recent article on National Youth Day!
- Salute to the Protesting Youths on National Youth Day in India to be held on January 12
Very often females face sexual violence in India. Recently, the youths protested against the horrific crimes. Steps to be taken to control such crimes is discussed here and salute to the youths on National Youth Day on 12th January.