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THE PROBLEMS OF MODERN INDIA AND SWAMI VIVEKANAND Narendranath Dutta known to the world as Swami Vivekananda was

born on January 12th, 1863. He was a spiritual giant, who, not satisfied with his own unfoldment, intensely strove for the good of all .Whatever he did or spoke was for the salvation of India, for the removal of the misery of the world, and above all, to help every human being realize his divinity. He said Alive are those who live for others. Rest, are more dead than alive. He believed that true worship to god is to serve people and to help the downtrodden. His message was, therefore, not for one time, but for all times; not for one country, but for whole humankind; not for one aspect of human life, but for all aspects of human existence. Growing up as a young man he acquired many attributes of a strong leader and quickly commanded the respect of many of his peers. Curious about whether God could be known intimately, Narendranath found himself seeking the sage of Dakshineshwar, Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa. He began to visit Ramakrishna at Dakshineshwar but was cautious enough not to accept the validity of his statements without sifting them thoroughly through the sieve of his rational mind beset with all modern doubts of the age. Finally being satisfied he surrendered to him and realised under his guidance the Absolute Truth in 1886. He said, "Do not believe a thing because you read it in a book! Do not believe a thing because another has said it is so! Find out the truth for yourself! That is realization!" With his opening line Brothers and sisters of America at the Parliament of Religions held in Chicago in 1893, the unknown monk of India suddenly leapt into fame, at which he represented Hinduism. In America, Vivekananda mission was to enrich the religious consciousness of the Americans through the rational and humanistic teachings of the Vedanta philosophy. 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. His vast knowledge of Eastern and Western culture as well as his deep spiritual insight, fervid eloquence, brilliant conversation, broad human sympathy, colorful personality, and handsome figure made an irresistible appeal to those 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 his own motherland Vivekananda is regarded as the patriot saint of modern India and an inspirer of her dormant national consciousness. Wandering all over India, Swami Vivekananda touched the hearts of many people. Swami Vivekananda understood that 1

religion was the backbone of mother India and that it must also be the foundation of modern India. He said, Each nation has a main current in life; in India it is religion. Make it strong and the waters on either side must move along with it. He preached the ideal of a strengthgiving 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. His mission was both national and international. A lover of mankind, he 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 soul stirring language of poetry. The valiant monk proclaimed in America the greatness of Indian culture at a time when the West regarded India as a land of barbarians. He was the living embodiment of sacrifice and dedicated his life to the country and yearned for the progress of the poor, the helpless and the downtrodden. He was the great thinker and mighty man of action whos ringing words galvanized the slumbering Indians. Through Swami Vivekanandas lectures and speeches, many youth were inspired to ideas of social-service and character-building. For ages to come he will be a source of inspiration. Today, India is a fastest developing country in the world. India, with its diversified culture, civilization, natural resources, technology and huge skilled human resources, is also the fastest growing economy in the world. But at the same time there are several problems plaquing our Modern India which is affecting the growth and development. These are poverty, unemployment, terrorism, individualized and institutionalized corruption, casteism, internal insurgencies, moral degradation of public institutions, rapid pace of domestic environmental degradation, apathy of the media, political defragmentation and policy incoherence. Our country will grow and develop but only when we have more and more service-oriented people, people who are sensitive to the needs and problems of others, who respond to human problems naturally and spontaneously. This is the first great development that must come through education. All great developments come from thinking, from discrimination - Viveka. We need to educate our children with the capacity to think for themselves; we have to instill into them the scientific temper and the humanistic temper. Says Swami Vivekananda in his lecture on Practical Vedanta delivered in London in 1896:

What we want is progress, development, realization. No theories ever made men higher. No amount of books can help us to become purer. The only power is in realization, and that lies in ourselves and comes from thinking. Let men think. A clod of earth never thinks; but it remains only a lump of earth. The glory of man is that he is a thinking being. It is the nature of man to think and therein he differs from animals. This is a great goal for us to work for in India. We have the load of many weakening superstitions, many obscurantist ideas and many anti-human practices which come in the way of our progress. We must, therefore, emphasize not only the learning of science but also the developing of a scientific temper and attitude. This scientific temper should be combined with a humanistic temper. Both these together constitute the spiritual growth of man, as understood in our Vedanta. They constitute the critical search for truth and the passion to ensure human happiness and welfare. We have to transform, through education, our nation into a thoughtful, critical, scientific community, imbued with the passion for truth and for total human welfare. When we develop creative and dynamic passion in our children, they will get the capacity to appreciate their nation's great wealth of spiritual and cultural heritage and to brighten the life of our people at large. We can appreciate the greatness of our own culture, our own spirituality, our own philosophy, only when we develop a critical, truth-seeking, scientific mind. Vedanta always emphasizes a rational, questioning attitude as embodied in his quote I do not believe in a God or religion which cannot wipe the widow's tears or bring a piece of bread to the orphan's mouth. However sublime be the theories, however well - spun may be the philosophy - I do not call it religion so long as it is confined to books and dogmas. The eye is in the forehead and not in the back. Move onward and carry into practice that which you are very proud to call your religion On that note, our education must help our children to develop such a critical, scientific, truth-seeking attitude. This is what will integrate man with man, irrespective of caste, creed, race or sex and make our nation truly great. Our philosophy, the Vedanta, emphasizes the truth of our essential oneness. Therefore, love and concern for others becomes a by-product of this spiritual growth from individuality to personality, from vyaktitva to vikasita vyaktitva. Vedanta, through Vivekananda, defines the science of religion as: the manifestation of the divinity already within man . Even a little 3

manifestation of this divinity makes for love, service, creativity, and peace. It endows one with more energy, and the inclination to use that energy in the service of society. That is the very soul of education increasing the energy resources in man and giving it a humanistic direction. All this should come to the child through the teacher and parents. They must inspire to go to the library, to study the original books, and acquire more and more precise knowledge, think over what is learnt, and discuss it with teachers and other students. The teacher, thus not only teaches but also induces the student to seek knowledge by oneself and that is the meaning of the Sanskrit word for student: vidyarthi - arthi, seeker, of vidya i.e. knowledge. All over the world, people have realized that money cannot be the sole motivation for turning out the best work. Money is only one item, but the greatest item is a change in our attitude, the change involved in one's sense of dignity and privilege of being a citizen of India and the pride in doing a particular work in the service of the nation. But we are attached only to our community, to our caste, to our family, and mainly, to ourselves. Today, however, a new wave, a new national consciousness is developing in our people; it is the healthy symptom of a spiritual growth in our people. Says Vivekananda The national ideals of India are renunciation and service. Intensify her in those channels and the rest will take care of itself. This message energized India and taught her, and continues to teach her, to forsake the path of exploitation of man by man and follow the path of service. The spirit of service is found so little in our society today. Go to any office; no one there expresses any concern for you; no one responds to you; you won't get what is your due, even your salary, or pension, for months together. Why? Because people dealing with the subject are not concerned about others; they have learnt to concern only with themselves and their self-interest. The fault lies in our current education, narrowly conceived, as an instrument of mere individual ambition and advancement. That is the significance of Vivekananda's calling for a man-making religion and a man-making education. India is a young nation. The youth of our country have a huge responsibility to shoulder in the coming time. We cannot always build the future for our youth, but we can build our youth for the future .Franklin D. Roosevelt. East or West, North or South, youth everywhere, is in a state of restlessness and revolt. The modern youth is up against problems, the like of which did not exist in the past. They have seen and suffered the all-round erosion of values and the wreckage of their dreams. Having been influenced by the philosophies of individualism and existentialism, the youth is in a state of defiance against the old 4

order, whether that order comes from the elderly generation or the power beholder. They find themselves in a state of alienation or estrangement in the present setup, the fault lies as much with their socio-economic milieu as with the education system. Deprived of the opportunity to develop intellectually, many suffer from the problem of subjective isolation and self-estrangement. Among red tapism and bureaucratic control over the strings of both private and public sectors, the cream of the country finds itself uncared and unsolicited for. It is under these trying and turbulent circumstances that the best brain of the country starts draining out. Those who succeed in finding jobs or some means of subsistence in India, do not find life a sweet song or a carefree comfort. A host of problems keep staring them in their faces - inadequate houses, transport and sewerage; poor medical and recreational facilities; neurotic noise pollution, shortages, dust and smoke; crimes and ever-expanding slums and what not consuming the live and colorful period of their lives. Today we see youngsters are more obsessed with material comforts rather than spiritual development. We often hear in the news about students committing suicide. Why? Because today youngsters are unable to face failures in life. This is because the mental strength in them is lacking. How many of us today meditate and retrospect our daily actions, our rights and wrongs. Very few, because todays children are glued to computer games and electronic devices. No attention is paid to the physical and spiritual development of children. We are also aware of children pushed into terrorism in the name of jihad. This is because children today very easily believe in what is said to them without even thinking about it rationally. Practical knowledge as was stressed by Swami Vivekananda is lacking in our education system today. As a result the aim of every youngster is to seek a job as soon as they complete their education. Nobody wants to be a job giver but only a job seeker. Hence we see a point of saturation in some fields whereas in some there is lack of expertise. Today's children in school will start working and shouldering national responsibilities in the beginning of the next century. Students life is a phase when character can be formed and national attitudes developed. Students must be educated to become the instruments to develop an integrated nation out of our diversities. They must be made acquainted with the noble humanistic sentiments of our Constitution and impressed with the passion to translate them into socio-political realities. To recognize the equality of men and women in our democracy, to discard all caste exclusiveness and pride, untouchability, and communal distinctions and antagonisms and to strengthen the dignity of the individual and the unity of the nation. Every cultural heritage has these two aspects. It is education that instills the capacity to discriminate between the two and the courage 5

to reject what is bad and irrelevant and weakening. During education, our youth must be helped to identify and retain the positive elements and pass them on to the next generation after strengthening them with their own contributions. Swami Vivekanands literature is full of such arresting phrases capable of giving a thorough humanistic and spiritual orientation to our attitudes and outlook. Western psychologists are daily coming up with new ideas on human possibilities, in which more and more of the Indian ideas on the spiritual depth dimension of man are highly placed. All the new developments have been powerfully influenced by Vedanta and Yoga of the Upanisads, Gita and Patanjali's Yoga-sutras. We in India have all these as our national heritage; but we do not know them or utilise them. Western people are appreciating and utilising them more than we here; and that is our misfortune and their good fortune. In Swami Vivekanand, we find a truly inspired patriot saint, who deserves to be ranked as the foremost among the national workers of modern age. In his ideal and practice of patriotism there was no place for elements of hatred and distrust of the alien and its culture. In his vision he saw the day must come when India will rise, self conscious of her high destiny, to fulfill the great mission of spiritualizing the whole human race, making of man the animal into man the divine, and to the realization of that end he devoted his whole life and soul, moving among nations of the world as the herald of Light, Love, Peace and Harmony. His message was, therefore, not for one time, but for all times; not for one country, but for whole humankind; not for one aspect of human life, but for all aspects of human existence. Having assimilated the strength of Upanishads, Indians would arise anew. His call to the Indian people still rings out: Arise! Awake! and Stop Not till the goal is reached!

Submitted by: Dr.Deepti Nagesh Nayak Ph.D. Student Department of Veterinary Public Health College of Veterinary Science and Animal Husbandry Navsari Agricultural University, Navsari Email : drdeeptin@rediffmail.com Contact: 09274928085, 08866252562