Soul Search
Restless Round



Dalai Lama

Sri Ramakrishna

Swami Vivekananda

Madame Blavatsky

Ramana Maharshi

 Sri Aurobindo

 J. Krishnamurti 


Maharishi Mahesh Yogi

Swami Chinmayananda

Dada Vaswani 

Sri Sri Ravishankar

 Swami Rama



Swami Chidanand

Mata Amritanandamayi

 Mata Nirmala Devi

P.S. Athavale 


Deepak Chopra



Swami Vivekananda

A Profile
Swami Vivekananda's Speeches
The Social Thought of Swami Vivekananda
Vivekananda in America
Religion Vs Socialism
The Spiritual Genius of Vivekananda
Sayings of Swami Vivekananda
Swami Vivekananda : A Profile


SWAMI VIVEKANANDA'S inspiring personality was well known both in India and in America during the last decade of the nineteenth century and the first decade of the twentieth. The unknown monk of India suddenly leapt into fame at the Parliament of Religions held in Chicago in 1893, at which he represented Hinduism. His vast knowledge of Eastern and Western culture as well as his deep spiritual insight, fervid eloquence, brilliant conversation, broad human sympathy, colourful personality, and handsome figure made an irresistible appeal to the many types of Americans who came in contact with him. People who saw or heard Vivekananda even once still cherish his memory after a lapse of more than half a century.

In America Vivekananda's mission was the interpretation of India's spiritual culture, especially in its Vedantic setting. He also tried to enrich the religious consciousness of the Americans through the rational and humanistic teachings of the Vedanta philosophy. In America he became India's spiritual ambassador and pleaded eloquently for better understanding between India and the New World in order to create a healthy synthesis of East and West, of religion and science.

In his own motherland Vivekananda is regarded as the patriot saint of modern India and an inspirer of her dormant national consciousness, To the Hindus he preached the ideal of a strength-giving and man-making religion. Service to man as the visible manifestation of the Godhead was the special form of worship he advocated for the Indians, devoted as they were to the rituals and myths of their ancient faith. Many political leaders of India have publicly acknowledged their indebtedness to Swami Vivekananda.

The Swami's mission was both national and international. A lover of mankind, be strove to promote peace and human brotherhood on the spiritual foundation of the Vedantic Oneness of existence. A mystic of the highest order, Vivekananda had a direct and intuitive experience of Reality. He derived his ideas from that unfailing source of wisdom and often presented them in the soulstirring language of poetry.

The natural tendency of Vivekananda's mind, like that of his Master, Ramakrishna, was to soar above the world and forget itself in contemplation of the Absolute. But another part of his personality bled at the sight of human suffering in East and West alike. It might appear that his mind seldom found a point of rest in its oscillation between contemplation of God and service to man. Be that as it may, he chose, in obedience to a higher call, service to man as his mission on earth; and this choice has endeared him to people in the West, Americans in particular.

In the course of a short life of thirty-nine years (1863-1902), of which only ten were devoted to public activities-and those, too, in the midst of acute physical suffering-he left for posterity his four classics: Jnana-Yoga, Bhakti-Yoga, Karma-Yoga, and Raja-Yoga, all of which are outstanding treatises on Hindu philosophy. In addition, he delivered innumerable lectures, wrote inspired letters in his own hand to his many friends and disciples, composed numerous poems, and acted as spiritual guide to the many seekers, who came to him for instruction. He also organized the Ramakrishna Order of monks, which is the most outstanding religious organization of modern India. It is devoted to the propagation of the Hindu spiritual culture not only in the Swami's native land, but also in America and in other parts of the world.

Swami Vivekananda once spoke of himself as a "condensed India." His life and teachings are of inestimable value to the West for an understanding of the mind of Asia. William James, the Harvard philosopher, called the Swami the "paragon of Vedantists." Max Muller and Paul Deussen, the famous Orientalists of the nineteenth century, held him in genuine respect and affection. "His words," writes Romain Rolland, "are great music, phrases in the style of Beethoven, stirring rhythms like the march of Handel choruses. I cannot touch these sayings of his, scattered as they are through the pages of books, at thirty years' distance, without receiving a thrill through my body like an electric shock. And what shocks, what transports, must have been produced when in burning words they issued from the lips of the hero!''

Ramakrishna-Vivekananda Center
New York
January 5, 1953

Source :


Swami Vivekananda's Speeches


WELCOME ADDRESS - Chicago, Sept 11, 1893

Sisters and Brothers of America,

It fills my heart with joy unspeakable to rise in response to the warm and cordial welcome which you have given us. I thank you in the name of the most ancient order of monks in the world; I thank you in the name of the mother of religions, and I thank you in the name of millions and millions of Hindu people of all classes and sects.

My thanks, also, to some of the speakers on this platform who, referring to the delegates from the Orient, have told you that these men from far-off nations may well claim the honor of bearing to different lands the idea of toleration. I am proud to belong to a religion which has taught the world both tolerance and universal acceptance. We believe not only in universal toleration, but we accept all religions as true. I am proud to belong to a nation which has sheltered the persecuted and the refugees of all religions and all nations of the earth. I am proud to tell you that we have gathered in our bosom the purest remnant of the Israelites, who came to Southern India and took refuge with us in the very year in which their holy temple was shattered to pieces by Roman tyranny. I am proud to belong to the religion which has sheltered and is still fostering the remnant of the grand Zoroastrian nation. I will quote to you, brethren, a few lines from a hymn which I remember to have repeated from my earliest boyhood, which is every day repeated by millions of human beings: "As the different streams having their sources in different paths which men take through different tendencies, various though they appear, crooked or straight, all lead to Thee."

The present convention, which is one of the most august assemblies ever held, is in itself a vindication, a declaration to the world of the wonderful doctrine preached in the Gita: "Whosoever comes to Me, through whatsoever form, I reach him; all men are struggling through paths which in the end lead to me." Sectarianism, bigotry, and its horrible descendant, fanaticism, have long possessed this beautiful earth. They have filled the earth with violence, drenched it often and often with human blood, destroyed civilization and sent whole nations to despair. Had it not been for these horrible demons, human society would be far more advanced than it is now. But their time is come; and I fervently hope that the bell that tolled this morning in honor of this convention may be the death-knell of all fanaticism, of all persecutions with the sword or with the pen, and of all uncharitable feelings between persons wending their way to the same goal.

CONCLUDING ADDRESS - Chicago, Sept 27, 1893

The World's Parliament of Religions has become an accomplished fact, and the merciful Father has helped those who laboured to bring it into existence, and crowned with success their most unselfish labour.

My thanks to those noble souls whose large hearts and love of truth first dreamed this wonderful dream and then realized it. My thanks to the shower of liberal sentiments that has overflowed this platform. My thanks to this enlightened audience for their uniform kindness to me and for their appreciation of every thought that tends to smooth the friction of religions. A few jarring notes were heard from time to time in this harmony. My special thanks to them, for they have, by their striking contrast, made general harmony the sweeter.

Much has been said of the common ground of religious unity. I am not going just now to venture my own theory. But if any one here hopes that this unity will come by the triumph of any one of the religions and the destruction of the others, to him I say, "Brother, yours is an impossible hope." Do I wish that the Christian would become Hindu? God forbid. Do I wish that the Hindu or Buddhist would become Christian? God forbid.

The seed is put in the ground, and earth and air and water are placed around it. Does the seed become the earth, or the air, or the water? No. It becomes a plant. It develops after the law of its own growth, assimilates the air, the earth, and the water, converts them into plant substance, and grows into a plant.

Similar is the case with religion. The Christian is not to become a Hindu or a Buddhist, nor a Hindu or a Buddhist to become a Christian. But each must assimilate the spirit of the others and yet preserve his individuality and grow according to his own law of growth.

If the Parliament of Religions has shown anything to the world, it is this: It has proved to the world that holiness, purity and charity are not the exclusive possessions of any church in the world, and that every system has produced men and women of the most exalted character. In the face of this evidence, if anybody dreams of the exclusive survival of his own religion and the destruction of the others, I pity him from the bottom of my heart, and point out to him that upon the banner of every religion will soon be written in spite of resistance: "Help and not fight," "Assimilation and not Destruction," "Harmony and Peace and not Dissension."

source :

The Social Thought of Swami Vivekananda



Swami Vivekananda once remarked to a disciple in San Francisco, "You know, I may have to be born again. You see, I have fallen in love with man." (Swami Vivekananda in San Francisco, p. 13) When we study the life of Swami Vivekananda and read his lectures and writings, particularly his letters, we see what a tremendous force this love of mankind was for him.

From the time he decided to come to the Parliament of Religions in Chicago in 1893 up until the end of his short life in 1902, his love for mankind, his sympathy for the poor and downtrodden of all lands, and his great devotion to his Motherland and her depressed masses were the motivating power behind all of his actions. In his social views, whether on caste, education, women's rights, or the conditions of the masses, the one common factor was his great sympathy for all who suffer. It was this sympathy of heart which impelled him to accomplish as much as he did in such a short period of time; and it was the same sympathy of heart which brought so much suffering to his life as well.

In considering the social philosophy of Swami Vivekananda, we should always keep one thing in mind: Swamiji was not a man to be easily categorized. He himself had a distinct distaste for any "isms", and it would be a mistake to try to categorize his beliefs as falling within any particular school of thought, such as humanism, socialism, or the like.

Undoubtedly, many of his views are in sympathy with those of different political and social philosophies, and various proponents of different schools have rightfully drawn inspiration from his words and deeds. However, Swamiji's teachings were never based on any sectarian allegiance, but rather on his own spiritual convictions regarding the divinity of the soul, the oneness of existence, and the worship of God in man.

In the following few pages, we will examine the views of Swami Vivekananda on such questions as privilege, caste, education, uplifting the masses, and women's rights. We will also look at the various circumstances and events of his life which helped awaken his latent love for humanity: the influence of his family; the teachings of his beloved master, Sri Ramakrishna; his own first-hand experience of poverty; and his years of wandering through India.

Above all, we will try to show the perfect consistency between Swamiji's social views and his spiritual realizations, between his actions and his beliefs; for rarely has such a blend of head and heart, spiritual genius and sympathy for mankind, ever been seen in the world.



Convinced as he was of the divinity of each soul and, consequently, of the dignity of each individual, Swami Vivekananda waged a steady battle against all types of privilege and exploitation. In his eyes, all distinctions whereby one might distinguish one person from another, such as caste, creed, race, or gender, were based, not on the true nature of the individual, but on external superimpositions. From the highest point of view, all are pure spirit and, as such, share an essential identity. Thus, all attempts to exercise exclusive rights at the expense of others were seen by him to be both an affront to the human dignity of man and a contradiction of the spiritual fact of unity.

In a lecture delivered in London, entitled "Vedanta and Privilege", Swamiji spoke out against the phenomenon of privilege at all levels of society:

. . . the idea of privilege is the bane of human life. Two forces, as it were, are constantly at work, one making caste, and the other breaking caste; in other words, the one making for privilege, and the other breaking down privilege. And whenever privilege is broken down, more and more light and progress come to a race. This struggle we see all around us.

Of course, there is first the brutal idea of privilege, that of the strong over the weak. There is the privilege of wealth. If a man has more money than another, he wants a little privilege over those who have less. There is the still subtler and more powerful privilege of intellect; because one man knows more than others, he claims more privilege. And last of all, and the worst, because the most tyrannical, is the privilege of spirituality.

If some persons think they know more of spirituality, of God, they claim a superior privilege over everyone else. They say, "Come down and worship us, ye common herds; we are the messengers of God, and you have to worship us." None can be Vedantists, and at the same time admit of privilege for anyone. The same power is in every man, the one manifesting more, the other less; the same potentiality is in everyone. Where is the claim to privilege? (CW, I.423)



The question of caste and its relation to privilege was one with which Swami Vivekananda struggled long and hard. We can see from some of his early letters to Pramadadas Mitra, a learned scholar for whom Swamiji had great respect, how troubled Swamiji was with certain aspects of caste. One of the letters which Swamiji wrote to him from the Baranagore Math raised several questions with regard to caste, specifically concerning hereditary caste and the rights of Sudas to study the scriptures.

Swamiji's opinion on caste in general is not always entirely clear. In some of his writings and lectures, especially when responding to criticisms of the caste system from the West, he defends the concept of caste as representing a sensible and necessary division of labor. However, he was uncompromising with regard to his hatred of hereditary caste, of the notion that one's station in life was to be determined by birth alone rather than by one's ability or natural propensities. Though he sometimes blamed religion for the modern caste structure, Swamiji's mature opinion seems to have been that religion was not to blame and that the earliest references to caste in the Hindu scriptures do not contain the notion of hereditary caste.

It is interesting to note that many of the early questions regarding caste which Swami Vivekananda first raised in his letter to Pramadadas Mitra in 1889 are answered by Swamiji himself in his final letter to the scholar and longtime friend, written in 1897. Much time had passed since Swamiji had last written, and it is clear from the tone of the letter that their relationship had become somewhat strained. In this particular letter, Swamiji voiced what may be considered his final opinion on caste, whether hereditary or not, and on its relation to the scriptures. He wrote:

. . . the conviction is daily gaining on my mind that the idea of caste is the greatest dividing factor and the root of Maya; all caste either on the principle of birth or of merit is bondage. . . . The Smritis and the Puranas are productions of men of limited intelligence and are full of fallacies, errors, the feeling of caste, and malice. . . It is in the books written by priests that madness like that of caste are to be found, and not in books revealed from God. (Letters, pp. 337)

Swamiji's quarrel with the caste system centered around two separate, yet related, issues, one economic and one religious. He blamed caste, in part at least, for the social divisiveness which resulted in large disenfranchised segments of Indian society and for the grinding poverty of the masses.

He held the higher castes, particularly the Brahmins, responsible for the evils of priestcraft, for untouchability, and for their exclusive claims on spirituality and the sacred scriptures. In his reply to the address of the Maharaja of Khetri, Swamiji remarked,

This [tyranny of the upper castes] is the bane of human nature, the curse upon mankind, the root of all misery -- this inequality. This is the source of all bondage, physical, mental, and spiritual.(CW, IV. 329)

Swamiji reiterated the same theme in even stronger language to his brother disciple, Swami Ramakrishnananda, in a letter written from Chicago in 1894:

My brother, what experiences I have had in the South [of India], of the upper classes torturing the lower! What Bacchanalian orgies within the temples! Is it a religion that fails to remove the misery of the poor and turn men into gods! Do you think our religion is worth the name? Ours is only Don't-touchism, only "Touch me not", "Touch me not". Good heavens! A country, the big leaders of which have for the last two thousand years been only discussing whether to take food with the right hand or left, whether to take water from the right-hand side or from the left. . . if such a country does not go to ruin, what other will? . . . A country where millions of people live on flowers of the Mohua plant, and a million or two of sadhus and a hundred million or so of Brahmins suck the blood out of these poor people, without the least effort for their amelioration -- is that a country or hell? Is that a religion or the devil's dance? (CW, VI. 253)

Swami Vivekananda's quarrel with priestcraft centered around the notion of adhikaravada, the restriction of the study of the Vedas and other privileges to the Brahmin caste. Swamiji seemed to have held Sankarachrya especially responsible for upholding the exclusive practices of adhikaravada. Time and again, in both his letters and his utterances, he refers to Shankara's narrowness and lack of sympathy, even while praising his brilliant intellect.

As early as 1889, in the aforementioned letter to Pramadadas Mitra, Swamiji raised the question of Shankara's authority for excluding Sudras from studying the Vedas. In several of his later letters, he also criticized Shankara for his lack of liberality, contrasting him with the compassionate Buddha. In a letter to his brother disciple, Swami Akhandananda, he wrote:

What Buddha did was to break wide open the gates of that very religion which was confined in the Upanishads to a particular caste. . . His greatness lies in his unrivalled sympathy. The high orders of samadhi etc., that lent gravity to his religion, are almost all there in the Vedas; what are absent there are his intellect and heart, which have never since been paralleled throughout the history of the world. . . The religion of Buddha has reared itself on the Upaniads, and upon that also the philosophy of Shankara. Only Shankara had not the slightest bit of Buddha's wonderful heart, dry intellect merely! For fear of the Tantras, for fear of the mob, in his attempt to cure a boil, he amputated the very arm itself. (CW, VI. 225-27)

And in the course of a conversation with his disciple, Sharat Chandra Chakravarty, Swamiji said:

Shankara's intellect was sharp like a razor. He was a good arguer and a scholar, no doubt of that, but he had no great liberality; his heart too seems to have been like that. Besides, he used to take great pride in his Brahmanism -- much like a southern Brahmin of the priest class, you may say. How he has defended in his commentary on the Vedanta Sutras that the non-Brahmin castes will not attain to a supreme knowledge of Brahman! . . . But look at Buddha's heart! -- Ever ready to give his own life to save the life of even a kid -- what to speak of bahujanahitaya bahujanasukhaya -- For the welfare of the many, for the happiness of the many"! See what a large-heartedness -- what a compassion. (CW, VII. 117-18)



Perhaps the only injustice which troubled Swami Vivekananda more than caste prejudice was the tyranny of the wealthy over the poor, a tyranny which, in India, was related to, but not restricted to, the caste system. Swamiji's sympathy for the poor and downtrodden was one of his most outstanding traits and was the dominant motivating force behind many of his activities, including his initial visit to America and his founding of the Ramakrishna Math and Mission.

His utterances regarding the plight of the poor, particularly the depressed masses of India, are some of his most passionate and inspiring. In a letter to his Madrasi disciples, Swamiji wrote, "Feel, my children, feel; feel for the poor, the ignorant, the downtrodden; feel till the heart stops and the brain reels and you think you will go mad --then pour the soul out at the feet of the Lord, and then will come power, help, and indomitable energy. . ." (CW, IV. 367)

In this same letter, Swami Vivekananda pointed out the two crying needs of the poor: "bread" and education. He wrote:

Material civilization, nay, even luxury, is necessary to create work for the poor. Bread! Bread! I do not believe in a God who cannot give me bread here, giving me eternal bliss in heaven! Pooh! India is to be raised, the poor are to be fed, education is to be spread, and the evil of priestcraft is to be removed. . . More bread, more opportunity for everybody. . . (CW, IV. 368)

And in a lecture delivered in Lahore, he said:

What we want is not so much spirituality as a little of the bringing down of the Advaita into the material world. We stuff them too much with religion, when the poor fellows have been starving. No dogmas will satisfy the cravings of hunger. (CW, III. 432)

Swamiji placed great emphasis on education for the upliftment of the Indian masses. It was his desire that all aspects of life be covered in this education, so that it would be conducive to the material, intellectual, and spiritual development of the individual. Above all, he wanted a "man-making" education that would build character, give the masses back their "lost individuality", and restore their faith in their own divine potential. As in all matters of social reform, Swamiji's motto was "hands off". As he explained to the Maharaja of Mysore:

The only service to be done for our lower classes is to give them education, to develop their lost individuality. . . They are to be given ideas; their eyes are to be opened to what is going on in the world around them, and then they will work out their own salvation. Every nation, every man, every woman, must work out one's own salvation. Give them idea -- that is the only help they require, and then the rest must follow as the effect. Ours is to put the chemicals together, the crystallization comes in the law of nature. Our duty is to put ideas in their heads, they will do the rest. (Letters, pp. 117-18)

Swami Vivekananda also saw that the regeneration of the Indian masses would necessarily involve certain sacrifices on the part of the upper classes, whether voluntarily performed or not. He held the wealthy, educated, and privileged segments of society particularly responsible for the plight of the poor and predicted dire consequences for them if they failed to work towards rectifying conditions. He wrote:

So long as the millions live in hunger and ignorance, I hold every man a traitor who, having been educated at their expense, pays not the least heed to them! I call those men who strut about in their finery, having got all their money by grinding the poor, wretches, so long as they do not do anything for those two hundred millions who are now no better than human savages. (CW, V. 58)

The duty of every aristocracy is to dig its own grave, and the sooner it does so, the better. The more it delays, the more it will fester and the worse death it will

Please note that when "CW" is mentioned after a quote, it refers to The Complete Works of Swami Vivekananda. The number after the "CW" is the volume number.


Vivekananda in America


On the occasion of America's Bicentennial Celebration in 1976, the National Portrait Gallery in Washington D.C., mounted a large portrait of Swami Vivekananda as part of its exhibition "Abroad in America: Visitors to the New Nation," which paid tribute to the great personalities who visited America from abroad and made a deep impression on the American mind. Among those honored in the exhibition, some influenced art or literature, some science, education or social reform. But Swami Vivekananda touched the very soul of American people. The commemorative volume of the exhibition says: "The Swami charmed the audiences with his magical oratory, and left an indelible mark on America's spiritual development." This is no exaggeration. Swami Vivekananda was the first Hindu monk from India ever to visit America. Guided solely by the will of Providence, he embarked on this journey to the new world. The unknown wandering monk, lost in the streets of Chicago, suddenly became famous after his first day's brief address before the Parliament. A select audience of nearly 7,000 enlightened representatives of different branches of American thought became thrilled to hear his message and welcomed him with sustained and thunderous applause. He captured the hearts of the American people. Crowds gathered in the streets of Chicago to see the picture posters of Swami Vivekananda placed on billboards around the city, and lecture bureaus vied with one another to enlist him for lectures in different cities. Leading newspapers and journals published his words in bold letters. Some of these newspapers described him as the "cyclonic Hindu," some as "prince among men" or "Brahmin monk," while others chose to designate him by such epithets as "warrior prophet" and "militant mystic." Contemporary leaders of American thought who met him were entranced by the radiance of his spiritual personality and his powerful message. Professor John Henry Wright of Harvard University told Swami Vivekananda: "To ask you, Swami, for your credentials is like asking the sun about its right to shine." After hearing Swami Vivekananda, the correspondent of one journal wrote: "The impertinence of sending half-educated theological students to instruct the wise and erudite Orientals was never brought home to an English-speaking audience more forcibly." Professor William James referred to Swami Vivekananda as "the paragon of Vedantists." The Parliament of Religions, which was an afterthought of the planners of the Columbian Exposition, became a focus of historic importance because it served as a pulpit for the presentation of the message of Swami Vivekananda to the American public. Recalling this event, Romain Rolland wrote: "His strength and beauty, the grace and dignity of his bearing, the dark light of his eyes, his imposing appearance, and from the moment he began to speak, the splendid music of his rich deep voice enthralled the vast audience.... The thought of this warrior prophet of India left a deep mark upon the United States." America thus had the blessing of directly hearing a person of the stature of Buddha, radiating purity, compassion, and love.

The message of Swami Vivekananda was the message of Vedanta -- a spiritual teaching that again and again saved India during periods of decline and crisis. The keynote of this message is: "Truth is one: Sages call it by various names." Its four cardinal points are non-duality of the Godhead, divinity of the soul, oneness of existence, and harmony of religions. Religion, in the light of Vedanta, is the manifestation of the divinity already in man. The central theme of Vedanta is harmony of religions. This spiritual harmony is to be realized by deepening our spiritual consciousness. Vedanta asks a Christian to be a true Christian, a Hindu a true Hindu, a Buddhist a true Buddhist, a Jew a true Jew, Moslem a true Moslem. The message was timely and powerful. America had received a rude shock from the Civil War and its aftermath. Science had already shaken the very roots of religious beliefs and dogmas, and the ideas of Darwin were challenging conventional American thought and religion. Americans were looking for a philosophy that could harmonize science with humanism and mystical experience, and Swami Vivekananda's words gave them hope for the fulfillment of their spiritual aspirations. The message was powerful not because of its dialectical superiority or philosophical subtlety, but because of the personality of Swami Vivekananda. The message was an ancient one, but it bore a fire of conviction that was new. One familiar with the life of Swami Vivekananda will recall that his Master, Sri Ramakrishna, saw in him the power and potentiality of a great world teacher. Before the Master passed away, he prophesied: "Narendra (Swami Vivekananda) will teach others ….. Very soon he will shake the world by his intellectual and spiritual powers."

The news of Swami Vivekananda’s success in America soon reached the shores of India and spread like wildfire. The country, lost in the slumber of inertia, woke up with its new vigor and confidence, and a spiritual renaissance was set into motion that would propel India to great intellectual and social development. Today Swami Vivekananda is regarded as the "patriot prophet" of new India. His words carry the power of inspiration and transformation.

Swami Vivekananda indicated Vedanta is the future religion of mankind. With his prophetic vision, he predicted that modern science and education would break down the barriers between nations and prepare the ground for the fulfillment of the age-old dream of one united world. But one world is possible only when there is one common Soul that transcends the limitations of race, culture, and religious denominations. Swami Vivekananda presents before humanity the World-Soul of Vedanta, the non-dual, nameless and formless all-pervading Pure Spirit that alone can make the dream of one world a reality. He foresaw a new world order in which science and religion would cooperate, mysticism would combine with humanism and spiritual harmony would replace religious dissension. His final words at the Chicago Parliament of Religions were, "Upon the banner of every religion will soon be written in spite of resistance 'Help and not Fight,' 'Assimilation and not Destruction,' 'Harmony and Peace and not Dissension.'" At a time when world peace is being maintained by continuous wars, divisiveness is glorified at the expense of unity, and the human soul is being buried beneath the debris of brutality, violence and hatred, the words of Swami Vivekananda give us assurance -- an assurance that we are not living the last days of our destiny and that the light of the Divine, shining in every heart, will triumph over the forces of darkness.

Religion Vs Socialism


A Comparative Study of Vivekananda & Marx

Swami Vivekananda (1863-1902) and Karl Marx (1818-1883) were two towering personalities of the 19th century, who redefined our outlook to human nature and society.

Swamiji's masterful oratory and Marx's magnum opus Das Capital were a source of optimism and inspiration for the advance of human prosperity and emancipation. These two great men in two different parts of the world, with their distinctive philosophies, were totally committed to the cause of the oppressed and were ready to sacrifice everything for that cause. Both were revolutionary thinkers who pioneered a radical change, in their own unique ways.

On Socialism & Religion
Vivekananda and Marx viewed socialism through two different prisms with the ultimate goal of uplifting the downtrodden and the exploited class.

Swami Vivekananda's attitude towards socialism is summed up in: “I am a socialist, not because it is a perfect system, but because I believe that half a loaf is better than no bread.” Swamiji saw socialism as a ray of hope for the myriad of problems confronting India. He viewed the course of world history as a change in governance between the four castes: Brahmin, Kshatriya, Vaishya and Shudra in conformity to the law of nature. With the rise of Shudras, the lowest class, Vivekananda identified democracy and distribution of physical comforts and education. Swamiji's concept of socialism was in no way averse to religion. He believed in elevation of masses without injuring the religious sentiments and that social changes can be brought forward only on a firm platform of conduct character and spirituality.

Marx was an ardent socialist who believed in dialectical materialism wherein there is a dialectical manner of confronting, studying and understanding natural phenomena; and materialistic by its means of interpreting phenomena and drawing up its theory. Dialectical materialism is a scientific approach and is opposed to idealism which offers an interpretation based on religion. Marx believed in the power of economic forces rather than the ideological approach. For him, religion was the opium of the working class by the ruling class. Marxism sees in religion the exploitation of human ignorance and credulity.

On Nationalism
Marx was an internationalist and never cared for the sentiments behind nationalism. The largest gap in his writings in politics was the limited attention given to the nation-state and nationalism. Marx believed that nations were a byproduct of the capital age because of the economic undercurrent bringing about markets for the good produced. Marx proclaimed that workingmen have no country and championed international co-operation of the working class.

Vivekananda, on the contrary, was a nationalist to the core and believed in patriotism and national feeling. He was proud of the Indian legacy with the cultural approach and was of the view that every nation is born and not created. According to Swamiji, “Every nation has a national purpose of its own. Either in obedience to the law of nature, or by virtue of the superior genius of the great ones, the social manners and customs of every nation are molded into shape, so as to bring that purpose with fruition.” Vivekananda wanted each nation to grow to its full stature and strength, thus contributing to the sum total of world's growth and human welfare. Swamiji's nationalism had internationalism in essence and execution.

In Hinduism, the ultimate aim of human life is the attainment of salvation or Moksha. To attain Moksha, a conducive socio-economic order wherein an individual can lead a peaceful and undistracted life is imperative.

Marxism also professes the attainment of a different order, that is, a classless society. A socialist state has no exploitation and the individual is freed from the burden of having to work for those who exploit his labour whereby leading to a classless society.

Source :

The Spiritual Genius of Vivekananda


Swami Vivekananda is one of most admired spiritual leaders of India. The world knows him as an inspiring Hindu monk, his motherland regards him as the patriot saint of modern India, and Hindus consider him as a source of spiritual power, mental energy, strength-giving and open-mindedness.

Vivekananda was born on January 12, 1863, in a middle-class Bengali family of Calcutta. Narendranath Dutt, as he was called before sainthood, grew up to be a youth of great charm and intelligence. In a pre-independent India hidebound by communal disharmony and sectarianism, this blithe spirit soared above the rest to become the manifestation of freedom - the summum bonum of human life.

An avid scholar of Western and Hindu philosophy and ever thirsty for the mystery of Creation and the law of Nature, Vivekananda found his guru in Sri Ramkrishna Paramhamsa. He toured across India to know his country and people, and found his spiritual alma mater at the Kanyakumari rock in Cape Comorin at the southern most tip of the Indian peninsula. The Vivekananda memorial is now a landmark for tourists and pilgrims, and a tribute to him by his country men.

The Vivekananda House This house in South Pasadena where the Swami stayed in 1900 has now become a shrine.

Swami Vivekananda rose to worldwide fame in 1893, when he visited America to attend the first Parliament of World Religions in Chicago. The uninvited young monk addressed this august assembly and electrified the audience. His speech made him world famous overnight: "Sisters and Brothers of America, it fills my heart with joy unspeakable to rise in response to the warm and cordial welcome which you have given us. I thank you in the name of the millions and millions of Hindu people …" (Read complete speech)

Vivekananda's life and teachings are of inestimable value to the West for an understanding of the mind of Asia, says Swami Nikhilananda of the Ramakrishna-Vivekananda Center, New York. On the occasion of America's Bicentennial Celebration in 1976, the National Portrait Gallery in Washington D.C., mounted a large portrait of Swami Vivekananda as part of its exhibition 'Abroad in America: Visitors to the New Nation', which paid tribute to the great personalities who visited America from abroad and made a deep impression on the American mind.

William James called the Swami the "paragon of Vedantists." Max Muller and Paul Deussen, the famous Orientalists of the nineteenth century, held him in genuine respect and affection. "His words," writes Romain Rolland, "are great music, phrases in the style of Beethoven, stirring rhythms like the march of Handel choruses. I cannot touch these sayings of his…without receiving a thrill through my body like an electric shock. And what shocks…must have been produced when in burning words they issued from the lips of the hero!''

An inspiring spiritual and social leader, Vivekananda has left an indelible mark in history with his teachings, which are studied everywhere in India and abroad. The immortal soul passed away on the 4th of July, 1902 at the young age of 38.

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Excerpted from Swami Vivekananda's legendary address to the World Parliament of Religions at Chicago in 1893

Three religions now stand in the world which have come down to us from time prehistoric—Hinduism, Zoroastrianism and Judaism. They have all received tremendous shocks and all of them prove by their survival their internal strength. But while Judaism failed to absorb Christianity and was driven out of its place of birth by its all-conquering daughter, sect after sect arose in India and seemed to shake the religion of the Vedas to its very foundations, but like the waters of the seashore in a tremendous earthquake it receded only for a while, only to return in an all-absorbing flood, a thousand times more vigorous; and when the tumult of the rush was over, these sects were all sucked in, absorbed and assimilated into the immense body of the mother faith.

From the high spiritual flights of the Vedanta philosophy, of which the latest discoveries of science seem like echoes, to the low ideas of idolatry with its multifarious mythology, the agnosticism of the Buddhists and the atheism of the Jains, each and all have a place in the Hindu religion.

Where is the common center to which all these widely diverging radii converge? Where is the common basis upon which all these contradictions rest? And this is the question I shall attempt to answer.

The Hindus have received their religion through revelation, the Vedas. They hold that the Vedas are without beginning and without end. They mean the accumulated treasury of spiritual laws discovered by different persons in different times. Just as the law of gravitation existed before its discovery, and would exist if all humanity forgot it, so is it with the laws that govern the spiritual world. The moral, ethical, and spiritual relations between soul and soul and between individual spirits and the Father of all spirits, were there before their discovery, and would remain even if we forgot them.

The Vedas teach us that creation is without beginning or end. Science is said to have proved that the sum total of cosmic energy is always the same. Then, if there was a time when nothing existed, where was all this manifested energy? Some say it was in a potential form in god. In that case god is sometimes potential and sometimes kinetic, which would make him mutable. Everything mutable is a compound, and everything compound must undergo that change which is called destruction. So god would die, which is absurd. Therefore there never was a time when there was no creation.

If I may be allowed to use a simile, creation and creator are two lines, without beginning and without end, running parallel to each other. God is the ever-active providence, by whose power systems after systems are being evolved out of chaos, made to run for a time and again destroyed. This is what the Brahmin boy repeats every day: "The sun and the moon, the Lord created like the suns and moons of previous cycles."

Here I stand and if I shut my eyes, and try to conceive my existence, "I," "I," "I," what is the idea before me? The idea of a body. Am I, then, nothing but a combination of material substances? The Vedas declare "No." I am a spirit living in a body. The body will die, but I shall not die. The soul was not created, for creation means a combination, which means a certain future dissolution. If then the soul was created, it must die. Some are born happy, while others are born miserable. Why, if they are all created, why does a just and merciful god create one happy and another unhappy, why is he so partial? Nor would it mend matters in the least to hold that those who are miserable in this life will be happy in a future one. Why should a man be miserable even here in the reign of a just and merciful god?

In the second place, the idea of a creator god does not explain the anomaly, but simply expresses the cruel fiat of an all-powerful being. There must have been causes, then, before his birth, to make a man miserable or happy and those were his past actions.

We cannot deny that bodies acquire certain tendencies from heredity, but those tendencies only mean the physical configuration through which a peculiar mind alone can act in a peculiar way. There are other tendencies peculiar to a soul caused by his past actions. And a soul with a certain tendency would by the laws of affinity take birth in a body, which is the fittest instrument for the display of that tendency. This is in accord with science, for science wants to explain everything by habit, and habit has got through repetitions. So repetitions are necessary to explain the natural habits of a newborn soul. And since they were not obtained in this present life, they must have come down from past lives.

There is another suggestion. Taking all these for granted, how is it that I do not remember anything of my past life? This can be easily explained. I am now speaking English. It is not my mother tongue, in fact no words of my mother tongue are now present in my consciousness, but let me try to bring them up, and they rush in. That shows that consciousness is only the surface of the mental ocean, and within its depths are stored up all our experiences. Try and struggle, they would come up and you would be conscious even of your past life.

So then the Hindu believes that he is spirit. Him the sword cannot pierce—him the fire cannot burn—him the water cannot melt—him the air cannot dry. The Hindu believes that every soul is a circle whose circumference is nowhere, but whose center is located in the body, and that death means the change of this center from body to body. Nor is the soul bound by the conditions of matter. In its very essence, it is free, unbounded, holy, pure, and perfect. But somehow or the other it finds itself tied down to matter, and thinks of itself as matter.

How can the perfect soul be deluded into the belief that it is imperfect? We have been told that the Hindus shirk the question and say that no such question can be there. Some thinkers want to answer it by positing one or more quasi-perfect beings, and use big scientific names to fill up the gap. But naming is not explaining. The question remains the same. How can the perfect become the quasi-perfect; how can the pure, the absolute, change even a microscopic particle of its nature? But the Hindu is sincere. He does not want to take shelter under sophistry. His answer is: "I do not know. I do not know how the perfect being, the soul, came to think of itself as imperfect, as joined to and conditioned by matter."

Well, then, the human soul is eternal and immortal, perfect and infinite, and death means only a change of center from one body to another. The present is determined by our past actions, and the future by the present. The soul will go on evolving up or reverting back from birth to birth and death to death. But here is another question: Is man a tiny boat in a tempest, raised one moment on the foamy crest of a billow and dashed down into a yawning chasm the next, rolling to and fro at the mercy of good and bad actions? Is there no hope? Is there no escape?—was the cry that went up from the bottom of the heart of despair. It reached the throne of mercy, and words of hope and consolation came down and inspired a Vedic sage, and he stood up before the world and in trumpet voice proclaimed the glad tidings: "Hear, ye children of immortal bliss! Even ye that reside in higher spheres! I have found the Ancient One, who is beyond all darkness, all delusion: knowing Him alone you shall be saved from death over again."

"Children of immortal bliss"—what a sweet, what a hopeful name! Allow me to call you, brethren, by that sweet name—heirs of immortal bliss—yea, the Hindu refuses to call you sinners. Ye are the children of god, the sharers of immortal bliss, holy and perfect beings. Ye divinities on earth-sinners! It is a sin to call a man so; it is a standing libel on human nature. Come up, O lions, and shake off the delusion that you are sheep; you are souls immortal, spirits free, blest and eternal; ye are not matter, ye are not bodies; matter is your servant, not you the servant of matter."

Thus it is that the Vedas proclaim not a dreadful combination of unforgiving laws, not an endless prison of cause and effect, but that at the head of all these laws, in and through every particle of matter and force, stands One, "By whose command the wind blows, the fire burns, the clouds rain, and death stalks upon the earth."

And what is his nature? He is everywhere, the pure and formless One, the Almighty and the All merciful. "Thou art our father, Thou art our mother, Thou art our beloved friend, Thou art the source of all strength; give us strength. Thou art he that beareth the burdens of the universe; help me bear the little burden of this life." Thus sang the Rishis of the Veda. And how to worship Him? Through love. "He is to be worshiped as the one beloved, dearer than everything in this and the next life."

This is the doctrine of love declared in the Vedas, and let us see how it is fully developed and taught by
Krishna, whom the Hindus believe to have been god incarnate on earth.

He taught that a man ought to live in this world like a lotus leaf, which grows in water but is never moistened by water; so a man ought to live in the world—his heart to god and his hands to work.

It is good to love god for hope of reward in this or the next world, but it is better to love god for love's sake, and the prayer goes: "Lord, I do not want wealth, nor children, nor learning. If it be Thy will, I shall go from birth to birth, but grant me this, that I may love Thee without the hope of reward-love unselfishly for love's sake." One of the disciples of Krishna, the then Emperor of India, was driven from his kingdom by his enemies and had to take shelter with his queen, in a forest in the Himalayas, and there one day the queen asked him how it was that he, the most virtuous of men, should suffer so much misery. Yudhishthira answered: "Behold, my queen, the
Himalayas, how grand and beautiful they are: I love them. They do not give me anything, but my nature is to love the grand, the beautiful, therefore I love them. Similarly, I love the Lord. He is the source of all beauty, of all sublimity. He is the only object to be loved; my nature is to love Him, and therefore I love. I do not pray for anything. Let him place me wherever he likes. I must love him for love's sake. I cannot trade in love."

The Vedas teach that the soul is divine, only held in the bondage of matter; perfection will be reached when this bond will burst, and the word they use for it is therefore mukti-freedom, freedom from the bonds of imperfection, freedom from death and misery.

And this bondage can only fall off through the mercy of god, and this mercy comes on the pure. So purity is the condition of his mercy. How does that mercy act? He reveals him self to the pure heart; the pure and the stainless see god, yea even in this life. Then and then only all crookedness of the heart is made straight; then all doubt ceases. He is no more the freak of a terrible law of causation. The Hindu does not want to live upon words and theories. If there are existence beyond the ordinary sensuous existence, he wants to come face to face with them. If there is an all-merciful universal Soul, he will go to him direct. He must see him, and that alone can destroy all doubts. So the best proof a Hindu sage gives about the soul, about god, is—"I have seen the soul; I have seen god."

Thus the whole object of their system is by constant struggle to become perfect, to become divine, to reach god and see god, and this reaching god, seeing god, becoming perfect even as the father in heaven is perfect, constitutes the religion of the Hindus.

And what becomes of a man when he attains perfection? He enjoys infinite and perfect bliss, having obtained the only thing in which man ought to have pleasure, namely god, and enjoys the bliss with god.

If it is happiness to enjoy the consciousness of this small body, it must be greater happiness to enjoy the consciousness of two bodies, the measure of happiness increasing with the consciousness of an increasing number of bodies, the aim, the ultimate of happiness being reached when it would become a universal consciousness.

Therefore, to gain this infinite universal individuality, this miserable little prison-individuality must go. Then alone can death cease when I am one with life, then alone can misery cease when I am one with happiness itself, then alone can all errors cease when I am one with knowledge itself; and this is the necessary scientific conclusion. Science has proved to me that physical individuality is a delusion, that really my body is one little continuously changing body in an unbroken ocean of matter, and advaita (unity) is the necessary conclusion with my other counterpart, soul.

This brethren, is a short sketch of the religious ideas of the Hindus. The Hindu may have failed to carry out all his plans, but if there is ever to be a universal religion, it must be one which will have no location in place or time; which will be infinite, like the god it will preach, and whose sun will shine upon the followers of Krishna and of Christ, on saints and sinners alike; which will not be Brahminic or Buddhistic, Christian or Mohammedan, but the sum total of all these, and still have infinite space for development; which in its catholicity will embrace in its infinite arms, and find a place for, every human being. It will be a religion which will have no place for persecution or intolerance in its polity, which will recognize divinity in every man and woman, and whose whole scope, whose whole force, will be centered in aiding humanity to realize its own true, divine nature.

Offer such a religion and all the nations will follow you. Ashoka's council was a council of the Buddhist faith. Akbar's, though more to the purpose, was only a parlor meeting. It was reserved for America to proclaim to all the quarters of the globe that the Lord is in every religion.

May He who is the Brahman of the Hindus, the Ahura-Mazda of the Zoroastrians, the Buddha of the Buddhists, the Jehovah of the Jews, the Father in Heaven of the Christians, give strength to you to carry out your noble idea! The star arose in the East; it traveled steadily towards the West, sometimes dimmed and sometimes effulgent, till it made a circuit of the world, and now it is again rising on the very horizon of the East, the borders of the Sanpo, a thousandfold more effulgent than it ever was before.

Columbia, motherland of liberty! It has been given to thee, who never dipped her hand in her neighbor's blood, who never found out that the shortest way of becoming rich was by robbing one's neighbors, it has been given to thee to march at the vanguard of civilization with the flag of harmony.

Life Positive, October 2000

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Swami Vivekananda, born Narendranath Datta in Calcutta in 1863, became a disciple of Ramakrishna Paramahamsa in his youth. On a three-year visit to the United States and Europe, he made a profound impression with his doctrine of combining spiritual consciousness and social responsibility. Especially significant were his talks at the World Parliament of Religions in Chicago in 1893. During his travels, he brought Vedanta to the West, and adopted the name Vivekananda, or 'bliss discernment'. In India, he influenced many political leaders of the emerging nation. He founded the Ramakrishna Mission and wrote several books on Yoga and Vedanta. He died in 1902, at the age of 39.

Excerpts from his talk delivered at Los Angeles on
January 8, 1900:

All over the world there has been the belief in the supernatural throughout the ages. All of us have heard of extraordinary happenings, and many of us have had some personal experience of them. I would rather introduce the subject by telling you certain facts, which have come within my own experience. I once heard of a man who, if anyone went to him with questions in his mind, would answer them immediately; and I was also informed that he foretold events. I was curious, and went to see him with a few friends. We each had something in our minds to ask, and, to avoid mistakes, we wrote down our questions and put them in our pockets. As soon as the man saw one of us, he repeated our question and gave answers to them. Them he wrote something on paper, which he folded up, asked me to sign on the back, and said, "Don't look at it; put it in your pocket, and keep it there till I ask for it again." And so on to each one of us. He next told us about some events that would happen to us in the future.

Then he said, "Now, think of a word or sentence, from any language you like." I thought of a long sentence from Sanskrit, a language of which he was entirely ignorant. "Now take out the paper from your pocket," he said. The Sanskrit sentence was written there! He had written it an hour before with the remark, "In confirmation of what I have written, this man will think of this sentence." It was correct. Another of us who had been given a similar paper, which he had signed and placed in his pocket, was also asked to think of a sentence. He thought of a sentence in Arabic, which it was still less possible for the man to know; it was some passage from the Koran. And my friend found this written down on the paper.

Another of us was a physician. He thought of a sentence from a German medical book. It was written on his paper. Several days later I went to this man again, thinking possibly I had been deluded somehow before. I took other friends, and on this occasion also he came out wonderfully triumphant. Another time I was in the city of Hyderabad in India, and I was told of a Brahmin there, who could produce numbers of things from where, nobody knew. This man was in business there; he was a respectable gentleman. And I asked him to show me his tricks. It so happened that this man had a fever; and in India there is a general belief that if a holy man puts his hand on a sick man he would be well.

This Brahmin came to me and said, "Sir, put your hand on my head, so that my fever may be cured." I said, "Very good; but you show me your tricks." He promised. I put my hand on his head as desired; and later, he came to fulfill his promise. He had only a strip of cloth about his loins, we took off everything else from him. I had a blanket, which I gave him to wrap round himself, because it was cold, and made him sit in a corner. Twenty-five pairs of eyes were looking at him. And he said, "Now, look, write down anything you want." We all wrote down names of fruits that never grew in that country, bunches of grapes, oranges and so on. And we gave him those bits of paper. And there came from under his blanket, bushels of grapes, oranges, and so forth, so much that if all that fruit was weighed, it would have been twice as heavy as the man. He asked us to eat the fruit. Some of us objected, thinking it was hypnotism; but the man began eating himself—so we all ate. It was all right. He ended by producing a mass of roses. Each flower was perfect, with dewdrops on the petals, not one crushed, not one injured. And masses of them! When I asked the man for an explanation, he said, "It is all sleight of hand."

Whatever it was, it seemed to be impossible that it could be sleight of hand merely. From whence could he have got such large quantities of things? Well, I saw many things like that. Going about India you find hundreds of similar things in different places. These are in every country. Even in this country you will find some such wonderful things. In very remote times in India, thousands of years ago, these facts used to happen even more than they do today. It seems to me that when a country becomes very thickly populated, psychical power deteriorates.

Given a vast country thinly inhabited, there will, perhaps, be more of psychical power there. These facts the Hindus, being analytically minded, took up and investigated. And they came to certain remarkable conclusions; that is, they made a science of it. They found out that all these, though extraordinary, are also natural; there is nothing supernatural. They are under laws just the same as any other physical phenomenon. It is not a freak of nature that a man is born with such powers. They can be systematically studied, practiced and acquired. This science they call the science of Raja-Yoga.

There are thousands of people who cultivate the study of this science, and for the whole nation it has become a part of daily worship. The conclusion they have reached is that all these extraordinary powers are in the mind of man. This mind is a part of the universal mind. Each mind is connected with every other mind. And each mind, wherever it is located, is in actual communication with the whole world.

Now, I shall tell you a theory, which I will not argue now, but simply place before you the conclusion. Each man in his childhood runs through the stages through which his race has come up; only the race took thousands of years to do it, while the child takes a few years. The child is first the old savage man—and he crushes a butterfly under his feet. The child is at first like the primitive ancestors of his race. As he grows, he passes through different stages until he reaches the development of his race. Only he does it swiftly and quickly.

Now, take the whole of humanity as a race, or take the whole of the animal creation, man and the lower animals, as one whole. There is an end towards which the whole is moving. Let us call it perfection. Some men and women are born who anticipate the whole progress of mankind. Instead of waiting and being reborn over and over again for ages until the whole human race has attained to that perfection, they, as it were, rush through them in a few short years of their life. And we know that we can hasten these processes, if we be true to ourselves.

If a number of men, without any culture, be left to live upon an island, and are given barely enough food, clothing, and shelter, they will gradually go on and on, evolving higher and higher stages of civilization. We know also that this growth can be hastened by additional means. We help the growth of trees, do we not? Left to nature they would have grown, only they would have taken a longer time; we help them to grow in a shorter time than they would otherwise have taken. We are doing all the time the same thing, hastening the growth of things by artificial means. Why cannot we hasten the growth of man?

We can do that as a race. Why are teachers sent to other countries? Because by these means we can hasten the growth of races. Now, can we not hasten the growth of individuals? We can. Can we put a limit to the hastening? We cannot say how much a man can grow in one life. You have no reason to say that this much a man can do and no more. Circumstances can hasten him wonderfully. Can there be any limit then, till you come to perfection? So, what comes of it?—That a perfect man, that is to say, the type that is to come of this race, perhaps millions of years hence, that man can come today.

And this is what the Yogis say, that all great incarnations and prophets are such men; that they reached perfection in this one life. We have had such men at all periods of the world's history and at all times. Even this hastening of the growth must be under laws. Suppose we can investigate these laws and understand their secrets and apply them to our own needs; it follows that we grow. We hasten our growth, we hasten our development, and we become perfect, even in this life.

This is the higher part of our life, and the science of the study of mind and its powers has this perfection as its real end. The utility of this science is to bring out the perfect man, and not let him wait and wait for ages, just a plaything in the hands of the physical world, like a log of driftwood carried from wave to wave and tossing about in the ocean. This science wants you to be strong, to take the work in your own hand, instead of leaving it in the hands of nature, and get beyond this little life. It's a great idea.

There is no end to the power a man can obtain. This is the peculiarity of the Indian mind, that when anything interests it, it gets absorbed in it and other things are neglected. You know how many sciences had their origin in India. Mathematics began there. You are even today counting 1,2,3 etc. to zero, after Sanskrit figures, and you all know that algebra also originated in India, and that gravitation was known to the Indians thousands of years before Newton was born.

You see the peculiarity. At a certain period of Indian history, this one subject of man and his mind absorbed all their interest. And it was so enticing, because it seemed the easiest way to achieve their ends. Now, the Indian mind became so thoroughly persuaded that the mind could do anything and everything according to law, that its powers became the great object of study. Charms, magic and other powers, and all that were nothing extraordinary, but a regularly taught science, just as the physical sciences they had taught before that. Such a conviction in these things came upon the race that physical sciences nearly died out. It was the one thing that came before them. Different sects of yogis began to make all sorts of experiments. Some made experiments with light, trying to find out how lights of different colors produced changes in the body. They wore a certain colored cloth, lived under a certain color, and ate certain colored foods. All sorts of experiments were made in this way. Others made experiments in sound by stopping and unstopping their ears. Yet others experimented in the sense of smell, and so on.

If this is true, it is temptation enough for the mind to exert its highest. But as with every other science it is very difficult to make any great achievement, so also with this, nay much more. Yet most people think that these powers can be easily gained. How many are the years you take to make a fortune? Think of that! First, how many years do you take to learn electrical science or engineering? And then you have to work all the rest of your life.

Again, most of the other sciences deal with things that do not move, that are fixed. You can analyze the chair, the chair does not fly from you. But this science deals with the mind, which moves all the time; the moment you want to study it, it slips. Now the mind is in one mood, the next moment, perhaps, it is different, changing, changing all the time. In the midst of all this change it has to be studied, understood, grasped, and controlled. How much more difficult, then, is this science! It requires rigorous training.

People ask me why I do not give them practical lessons. Why, it is no joke. I stand upon this platform talking to you and you go home and find no benefit; nor do I. Then you say, "It is all bosh." It is because you wanted to make a bosh of if. I know very little of this science, but the little that I gained I worked for thirty years of my life, and for six years I have been telling people the little that I know. It took me thirty years to learn it; thirty years of hard struggle. Sometimes I worked at it twenty hours during the twenty-four; sometimes I slept only one hour in the night; sometimes I worked whole nights; sometimes I lived in places where there was hardly a sound, hardly a breath; sometimes I had to live in caves. Think of that. And yet I know little or nothing; I have barely touched the hem of the garment of this science. But I can understand that it is true and vast and wonderful.

Now, if there is any one amongst you who really wants to study this science, he will have to start with that sort of determination, the same as, nay even more than, that which he puts into any business of life.

And what an amount of attention does business require, and what a rigorous taskmaster it is! Even if the father, the mother, the wife, or the child dies, business cannot stop! Even if the heart is breaking, we still have to go to our place of business, when every hour of work is a pang. That is business, and we think that it is just, that it is right.

This science calls for more application than any business can ever require. Many men can succeed in business; very few in this. Because so much depends upon the particular constitution of the person studying it. As in business all may not make a fortune, but everyone can make something, so in the study of this science each one can get a glimpse, which will convince him of its truth and of the fact that there have been men who realized it fully.

This is the outline of the science. It stands upon its own feet and in its own light, and challenges comparison with any other science. There have been charlatans, there have been magicians, there have been cheats, and more here than in any other field. Why? For the same reason, that the more profitable the business, the greater the number of charlatans and cheats. But that is no reason why the business should not be good. And one thing more; it may be good intellectual gymnastics to listen to all the arguments and an intellectual satisfaction to hear of wonderful things. But, if any one of you really wants to learn something beyond that, merely attending lectures will not do. That cannot be taught in lectures, for it is life; and life can only convey life.

 Life Positive, August 2000

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Sayings of Swami Vivekananda


Condemn none: if you can stretch out a helping hand, do so. If you cannot, fold your hands, bless your brothers, and let them go their own way.

You cannot believe in God until you believe in yourself.

When we really begin to live in the world, then we understand what is meant by brotherhood or mankind, and not before.

External nature is only internal nature writ large.

The world is the great gymnasium where we come to make ourselves strong.

Feel like Christ and you will be a Christ; feel like Buddha and you will be a Buddha. It is feeling that is the life, the strength, the vitality, without which no amount of intellectual activity can reach God.

The will is not free - it is a phenomenon bound by cause and effect - but there is something behind the will which is free.

The more we come out and do good to others, the more our hearts will be purified, and God will be in them.

There is nothing beyond God, and the sense enjoyments are simply something through which we are passing now in the hope of getting better things.

The moment I have realized God sitting in the temple of every human body, the moment I stand in reverence before every human being and see God in him -- that moment I am free from bondage, everything that binds vanishes, and I am free.

Our duty is to encourage every one in his struggle to live up to his own highest idea, and strive at the same time to make the ideal as near as possible to the Truth.

That man has reached immortality who is disturbed by nothing material.

You have to grow from the inside out. None can teach you, none can make you spiritual. There is no other teacher but your own soul.

The goal of mankind is knowledge. . . . Now this knowledge is inherent in man. No knowledge comes from outside: it is all inside. What we say a man "knows," should, in strict psychological language, be what he "discovers" or "unveils"; what man "learns" is really what he discovers by taking the cover off his own soul, which is a mine of infinite knowledge.

If money help a man to do good to others, it is of some value; but if not, it is simply a mass of evil, and the sooner it is got rid of, the better.

All differences in this world are of degree, and not of kind, because oneness is the secret of everything.

To devote your life to the good of all and to the happiness of all is religion. Whatever you do for your own sake is not religion.

The greatest religion is to be true to your own nature. Have faith in yourselves!

The spirit is the cause of all our thoughts and body-action, and everything, but it is untouched by good or evil, pleasure or pain, heat of cold, and all the dualism of nature, although it lends its light to everything.

It is our own mental attitude which makes the world what it is for us. Our thought make things beautiful, our thoughts make things ugly. The whole world is in our own minds. Learn to see things in the proper light. First, believe in this world -- that there is meaning behind everything. Everything in the world is good, is holy and beautiful. If you see something evil, think that you are not understanding it in the right light. throw the burden on yourselves!

In one word, this ideal is that you are divine.

All the powers in the universe are already ours. It is we who have put our hands before our eyes and cry that it is dark.

If faith in ourselves had been more extensively taught and practiced, I am sure a very large portion of the evils and miseries that we have would have vanished.

Where can we go to find God if we cannot see Him in our own hearts and in every living being.

The Vedanta teaches that Nirvana can be attained here and now, that we do not have to wait for death to reach it. Nirvana is the realization of the Self; and after having once known that, if only for an instant, never again can one be deluded by the mirage of personality.

The Vedanta recognizes no sin it only recognizes error. And the greatest error, says the Vedanta is to say that you are weak, that you are a sinner, a miserable creature, and that you have no power and you cannot do this and that.

Never think there is anything impossible for the soul. It is the greatest heresy to think so. If there is sin, this is the only sin – to say that you are weak, or others are weak.

Truth can be stated in a thousand different ways, yet each one can be true.

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