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Tuesday, January 17, 2012

The 'Cyclonic Hindoo monk' who changed our times

12 January 2012

Tarun Vijay

Since morning I have been trying to browse newspapers and magazines and intermittently glancing the channel talk shows to find out if any one, yes, any one, tried to put Swami Vivekananda's 150th birth anniversary too on a corner of their attention-radar. In vain, sorry to say, the search proved to be.

It's Batla house, some fatwa, UP and the election commission. Or in a corner, small insignificantly blurred lines on Mamata didi declaring Vivekananda's birthday as a holiday. Yes, he was a sannyasi, who belonged to Bengal, he was a Bengali, hence let it be a Bangla affair.

How do we define an India and the Indians where intellectual bankruptcy overwhelms the pan-national architecture with caste and regional affiliations ?

Vivekananda defined India. The quintessential Indian spirit, the soul and the fabric that makes us all together identified as one people, one nation, and one culture, called Bharatvarsh, which is also called India.

He defied the scheming theories of a sham secularism describing us some kind of conglomeration of mixed people and hit hard at those who tried to put in an element of shame and ostrich like hesitation to give a clarion call in the name of Hindu Take pride in being a Hindu and announce from the rooftops, that yes, we are Hindus, the inheritors of the world's greatest reservoir of wisdom, truth and a way of life that guarantees pluralism and protection of the nature without hurting the other people with a different viewpoint or faith.

He was a Hindu monk, a great Sannyasi, ochre robed and with a smile on his face and a Lion's heart. He faced the most powerful resistance of his times in the form of Christian missionaries Like the foreign correspondents made use of the Jarawa video to show how naked are the Indians who dance naked for food, same ugly machinations were used by the proselytizers who sought dollars showing Hindus in the most ridiculously backward image. Women throwing their babies to the crocodile, a nation of snake charmers and headhunters, the illiterate and uncivilized pagans and heathens, being brought to the shelter of the shepherd, for the good of all, hence please give us your precious dollars.

Vivekananda revolted against their lies and utterly shameful falsehoods. You are not Christians, 'he shouted at them, go back to Christ'.

There is a conscious attempt to secularize Vivekananda in its most nauseating way. An attempt to present him like he never was. Well-planned methodically charted academic plot to de-Vivekanandise the real Sannyasi. To de-Hindu-ise a young warrior, who was called by the West - The Cyclonic Hindoo Monk of India.

The western missionaries tried to character assassinate him, even attempted to poison him. The blindly ritualistic opponents opposed him at his home turf. But the Master, the Thakur, Swami Ramakrishna Paramhansa's blessings saved him and he remained unscathed.

It is important to know why he thought that unless Hindus are reformed, taken out of the shadow of fossilized ritualistic Brahmins, who would never allow the real souls, the 'untouchables' and the disadvantaged sections, keep them shackled while announcing great schemes for them, Hindus would not rise to unshackle the other societies of the world.

Be a proud Hindu. he said, at the same time he was his harshest best on the ill conceived practices we followed, the way we behaved with our own blood, our own Hindu fraternity, whom we considered, illogically, as low caste and hence 'untouchables'. He wanted the Hindu-ness to be protected and enlivened with the lofty and universal ideas of the Upanishads and Vedas. His Swadesh Mantra is an electrifying message for the rejuvenation of the nation. It must find place at the entrance of not only Parliament, but at the entrance of every assembly in India and in every school. It says, "O India! With this mere echoing of others, with this base imitation of others, with this dependence on others, this slavish weakness, this vile detestable cruelty -- wouldst thou, with these provisions only, scale the highest pinnacle of civilisation and greatness? Wouldst thou attain, by means of thy disgraceful cowardice that freedom deserved only by the brave and the heroic?"

Further it exhorts all Indians: "Forget not that the lower classes, the ignorant, the poor, the illiterate, the cobbler, the sweeper, are thy flesh and blood, thy brothers.

"Thou brave one, be bold, take courage, be proud that thou art an Indian, and proudly proclaim, 'I am an Indian, every Indian is my brother.' Say, 'The ignorant Indian, the poor and destitute Indian, the Brahmin Indian, the Pariah Indian, is my brother.'

"Thou, too, clad with but a rag round thy loins proudly proclaim at the top of thy voice: 'The Indian is my brother, the Indian is my life, India's gods and goddesses are my God. India's society is the cradle of my infancy, the pleasure-garden of my youth, the sacred heaven, the Varanasi of my old age.'

"Say, brother; 'The soil of India is my highest heaven, the good of India is my good,' and repeat and pray day and night, 'O Thou Lord of Gauri, O Thou Mother of the Universe, vouchsafe manliness unto me! O Thou Mother of Strength, take away my weakness, take away my unmanliness, and make me a Man!'

Please do read it in full, it's too mesmerizing an exhortation, as powerful as Lincoln's Gettysburg speech.

He believed that religion is the main theme of India:

"Each nation, like each individual, has one theme in life, which is its centre, the principal note round which every note comes to form harmony....if one nation attempts to throw off its vitality, the direction which has become its own through the transmission of centuries, the nation dies....if one nation's political power is its vitality, as in England, artistic life is another and so on. In India religious life forms the centre, the keynote of the whole music of life."

(source: Glimpses of Indian Culture - By Dr. Giriraj Shah p. 27).

India was his greatest God. He said: "India alone was to be, of all lands, the land of toleration and of spirituality…in that distant time the sage arose and declared, ekam sad vipra bahudha vadanti (He who exists is one; the sages call him variously). This is one of the most memorable sentences that was ever uttered, one of the grandest truths that was ever discovered. And for us Hindus, this truth has been the very backbone of our national existence…our country has become the glorious land of religious toleration…The world is waiting for this grand idea of universal toleration..."

(source: Vivekanada's Complete Works III, 186ff).

And his unflinching faith in Hindu dharma was like Mount Kailas. He said: "To my mind, our religion is truer than any other religion, because it never conquered. Because it never shed blood, because its mouth always shed on all, words of blessing, of peace, words of love and sympathy. It is here and here alone that the ideals of toleration were first preached. And it is here and here alone that toleration and sympathy become practical; it is theoretical in every other country; it is here and here alone, that the Hindu builds mosques for the Mohammedans and churches for the Christians."

(Source: Secularization of India… By S. Balasundar - Hindu voice)

He never allowed or sanctioned the conversion of Hindus by Christian proselytizers. He used as strong words as he could to oppose the conversion of Hindus in these famous words: "We shall otherwise decrease in numbers. When the Mohammedans first came, we are said -- I think on the authority of Ferishta, the oldest Mohammedan historian -- to have been six hundred millions of Hindus. Now we are about two hundred millions. And then every man getting out of the Hindu pale is not only a man less, but an enemy the more. " Vivekananda

(Complete Works V, p233, interview given in "Prabuddha Bharat", April, 1899)

He put the ideal of Guru Govind Singh before every Indian to follow. He said: "Men can never be united unless there is a bond of common interest. You can never unite people merely by getting up meetings, societies, and lectures if their interests be not one and the same. Guru Govind made it understood everywhere that the men of his age, be they Hindus or Mussulmans, were living under a regime of profound injustice and oppression. He did not create any common interest; he only pointed it out to the masses. And so both Hindus and Mussulmans followed him. He was a great worshipper of Shakti. Yet, in Indian history, such an example is indeed very rare."

(Source: Volume 6 Page 513 of Complete Works chapter Conversations & Dialogues)

And pray, in these times when no two Hindus can stand each other, and every Hindu organization loves to work to mitigate the other, while the biggest challenge to the Hindu cause comes from the Hindu leaders themselves, he exhorted the Hindu in these words: "Mark me, then and then alone you are a Hindu when the very name sends through you a galvanic shock of strength. Then and then alone you are a Hindu when every man who bears the name, from any country, speaking our language or any other language, becomes at once the nearest and the dearest to you. Then and then alone you are a Hindu when the distress of anyone bearing that name comes to your heart and makes you feel as if your own son were in distress. Then and then alone you are a Hindu when you will be ready to bear everything for them, like the great example I have quoted at the beginning of this lecture, of your great Guru Govind Singh. Driven out from this country, fighting against its oppressors, after having shed his own blood for the defence of the Hindu religion, after having seen his children killed on the battlefield- ay, this example of the great Guru, left even by those for whose sake he was shedding his blood and the blood of his own nearest and dearest-he, the wounded lion, retired from the field calmly to die in the South, but not a word of curse escaped his lips against those who had ungratefully forsaken him! Mark me, every one of you will have to be a Govind Singh, if you want to do good to your country. You may see thousands of defects in your countrymen, but mark their Hindu blood. They are the first Gods you will have to worship even if they do everything to hurt you, even if everyone of them send out a curse to you, you send out to them words of love. If they drive you out, retire to die in silence like that mighty lion, Govind Singh. Such a man is worthy of the name of Hindu; such an ideal ought to be before us always. All our hatchets let us bury; send out this grand current of love all around".

He wanted a great, strong, happy and wealthy nation. And he stood for revolt than the meek submission before un-understandable murmurs of the outdated ideas.

That was Vivekananda. Immortal in his thoughts and inspiring in his wisdom.

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