Teachings and philosophy of Swami Vivekananda
Teachings and philosophy of Swami Vivekananda stressed on different aspects of religion, youth, education, faith, character building as well as social issues pertaining to India. Vivekananda was a Hindu monk from India who played significant role in introducing Vedanta to the Western world and also reviving and redefining certain aspect of the religion within India. Tagore commented about Swami Vivekananda and his teachings, "If you want to know India, study Vivekananda. In him everything is positive and nothing negative." Vivekananda realized a country's future depends on its people, so he mainly stressed on man, "man-making is my mission", that's how he described his teaching. Vivekananda put his real ideals in few words and that was: "to preach unto mankind their divinity, and how to make it manifest in every movement of life."
- Essence of education
Swami Vivekananda believed education is the manifestation of perfection already in men. He thought it a pity that the existing system of education did not enable a person to stand on his own feet, nor did it teach him self-confidence and self-respect. To Vivekananda, education was not only collection of information, but something more meaningful; he felt education should be man-making, life giving and character-building. To him education was an assimilation of noble ideas.
|“||Education is not the amount of information that we put into your brain and runs riot there, undigested, all your life. We must have life building, man making, character making assimilation of ideas. If you have assimilated five ideas and made them your life and character, you have more education than any man who has got by heart a whole library...||”|
- Positive education
Swami Vivekananda stressed on giving the public only positive education, because negative thoughts weaken men. Swami Vivekananda told, if young boys and girls are encouraged and are not unnecessarily criticized all the time, they are bound to improve in time.
In New York, Vivekananda used to observe the Irish colonists come – downtrodden, haggard-looking, destitute of all possessions at home, penniless, and wooden-headed – with their only belongings, a stick and a bundle of rags hanging at the end of it, fright in their steps, alarm in their eyes. Vivekananda observed a completely different spectacle in next six months- the man walks upright, his attire is changed. In his eyes and steps there is no more fright. Swami Vivekananda tried to find out the cause, he told, if this incidence is seen by the explanations of Vedanta, that Irishman was kept surrounded by contempt in his own country – the whole of Nature was telling him with one voice – "Pat, you have no more hope, you were born a slave and will remain so". Having been thus told from his birth, Pat started believing in it and hypnotized himself that he is very low. While no sooner had he landed on America than the shout went up on all sided – "Pat, you are a man as we are, it is man who has done all, a man like you and me can do everything; have courage!" Pat raised his head and saw that it was so, the self-confidence within him woke up again. Swami Vivekananda feels likewise, the education that young boys and girls receive is very negative. He thinks they do not gain confidence or self-respect from these education, so according to Swami Vivekananda only positive education should be given to children.
Swami Vivekananda was a follower of Vedanta. To Swami Vivekananda religion was not only talk or doctrine or theory, to him religion was realization, as he said, "it is being and becoming, not hearing or acknowledging; it is the whole soul becoming changed into what it believes." He also felt religion is the gist of all worship is to be pure and to do good to others. According to Swami Vivekananda, religion is the idea which is raising the brute into man, and man unto God. He firmly said, despondency can not be religion. According to Vivekananda, an important teaching he received from Ramakrishna was that Jiva is Shiva (each individual is divinity itself). So he stressed on Shiva Jnane Jiva Seva, (to serve common people considering them as manifestation of God). According to Vivekananda, man is potentially Divine, so, service to man is indeed service to God.
- Harmony of religions
Swami Vivekananda felt, the greatest misfortune of the world is we do not tolerate and accept other religions. In his lecture in Parliament of religions on September 15, 1893, he told a story of a frog who lived in a well for a long time, he was born there and brought up there and he used to think that nothing in the world can be bigger that. Swami Vivekananda concluded the story-
|“||I am a Hindu. I am sitting in my own little well and thinking that the whole world is my little well. The Christian sits in his little well and thinks the whole world is his well. The Mohammedan sits in his little well and thinks that is the whole world.||”|
Swami Vivekananda told, we must not only tolerate other religions, but positively embrace them, and that the truth is the basis of all religions.
Swami Vivekananda called Jain monks as first great ascetics and pointed out their non-belief in God. He praised their ancient knowledge of presence of low form of life in water. In his own words, he ponders:
|“||A terrible thing, killing these low forms of life. So these monks, if they died of thirst, they would never kill these animals by drinking water. How all that we call ethics they simply bring out from that one great principle of non-injury and doing good.||”|
Swami Vivekananda believed, if there is any land on this earth that can lay claim to be the blessed punyabhumi (land of virtue), ... the land where humanity has attained its highest towards generosity, towards purity, towards calmness, above all, the land of introspection and of spirituality - it is India. He observed that the Indian race never stood for wealth, although they acquired immense wealth, they did not stand for wealth.
- National integration
According to Swami Vivekananda it is will, it is the integration that is the power. He gave an example- forty millions of Englishmen ruled three hundred millions of people in India. Vivekananda tried to find out the psychological explanation and found out the forty millions put their wills together and that resulted infinite power, and that was the reason of their success. Vivekananda prescribed, to make a great future India the whole serest will lie in organization, accumulation of power, co-ordination of wills.
Swami Vivekananda compared human mind with a monkey who is always restless and incessantly active by his own nature. He noticed, the human mind naturally wants to get outside, to peer out of the body, as it were, through the channels of the organs. So, he stressed on practice of concentration, as he felt there is no limit to the power of the human mind, the more concentrated it is, the more powerful it becomes. Swami Vivekananda suggested not to do anything which disturbs the mind or makes it restless.
Swami Vivekananda warned it is completely unfair to discriminate between sexes, as there is not any sex distinction in atman (soul), the soul has neither sex, nor caste nor imperfection. He suggested not to think that there are men and women, but only that there are human beings. Swami Vivekananda felt, The best thermometer to the progress of a nation is its treatment of its women and it is impossible to get back India's lost pride and honor unless they try to better the condition of women. Vivekananda considered men and women as two wings of a bird, and it is not possible for a bird to fly on only one wing. So, according to him, there is no chance for welfare of the world unless the condition of woman is improved.
- Women are not playthings
Swami Vivekananda noticed almost everywhere women are treated as playthings. In modern countries like America, women have more independence, still, Vivekananda had noticed, men bow low, offer a woman a chair and in another breath they offer compliments like "Oh, how beautiful your eyes.." etc. Vivekananda felt, a man does not have any right to do this or venture so far, and any woman should not permit this as well. According to Swami Vivekananda such things develop the less noble side of humanity. They do not tend to noble ideals.
- Indian women
According to Vivekananda, the ideal of womanhood in India is motherhood – that marvelous, unselfish, all-suffering, ever-forgiving mother. Vivekananda felt, in India, there are two great evils – trampling on the women, and grinding through the poor through caste restrictions.
- Sita, the Ideal of Indian womanhood
According to Swami Vivekananda, Sita is typical of India – the idealized India. Swami Vivekananda assured if world literature of the past and world literature of the future are thoroughly exhausted, yet, it'll not be possible to find out another Sita, because Sita is unique, the character was depicted once for all. Swami Vivekananda felt there may have been several Ramas, perhaps, but never more than one Sita. Vivekananda felt:
|“||All our mythology may vanish, even our Vedas may depart, and our Sanskrit language may vanish for ever, but so long as there will be five Hindus living here, even if only seeking the most vulgar patois, there will be the story of Sita present.||”|
Swami Vivekananda realized three things are necessary to make every man great, every nation great:
- Conviction of the powers of goodness.
- Absence of jealousy and suspicion.
- Helping all who are trying to be and do good.
Swami Vivekananda suggested to try to give up jealousy and conceit and learn to work unitedly for others. He told, purity, patience and perseverance overcome all obstacles. He suggested to take courage and work on. Patience and steady work, according to Swami Vivekananda, this is the only way to get success.
- Faith in one's self
According to Swami Vivekananda "faith, faith, faith in ourselves, faith, faith in God- this is the secret of greatness. Swami Vivekananda observed the history of the world is the history of a few men who had faith in themselves, and he it is faith which calls out divinity within. So he told, if people have faith in three hundred and thirty millions of Hindu mythological gods, and in all the gods which foreigners have now and still have no faith in themselves, there will be no salvation.
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