Vivekananda, a Bengali origin by birth, has been widely regarded as being symbolic of Indian culture, and Hinduism. Widely regarded as an Indian monk, Vivekananda was, in no manner, less than anything of a nationalist. His writings, and speeches, having influenced people from manifold streams of the Indian Freedom Movement.
It’s a juxtaposition, as to how Gandhiji and Subhas Chandra Bose, who shared different ideologies, came to fall in love with the country, by the words of this great monk. From people of the highest class of the society to the lowest, it is for everyone, that he has worked. He had disciples ranging from almost all the European nations, including some from American backgrounds too!
Narendranath (his real name) was a “sannyasin of high intellect, action, and devotion”, who aimed at preaching, “divine unity of existence and unity in diversity throughout the country.”
An eremite person, Vivekananda never took refuge in only being an ascetic. He knew he had to work, for his nation, his motherland, and contribute to building it to the highest class. Vivekananda stressed the importance of a scientific mindset, a scientific temper, and innovation. It was in 1893, when Swamiji was on his way to Chicago, from Yokohama, when he came across Jamsetjee Tata, the billion-dollar businessman. Vivekananda insisted that Tata should try to encourage scientific temper, by building world-class institutions, in India, the like of which hadn’t existed before.
This talk, led to the establishment of the Indian Institute of Science, in Bangalore, India’s premier research and development institute at the moment. This conversation, aboard the Empress, also brought in ideas of the TIFR, TCS, both being at the forefront of the scientific mindset in India.
Vivekananda stressed on industrialisation, the outcome of his thoughts being the TISCO, India’s largest steel producing centre. Subhas Chandra Bose, the famous Indian Independence activist, regarded Vivekananda, as his spiritual teacher. He called Vivekananda a “full-blooded masculine personality – and a fighter to the core of being,” having also explained how Vivekananda found his true self, his inner personality, under the guidance of Ramakrishna Paramhansa.
It is said, that there existed a luxury hotel, named the Watson’s Hotel, in Bombay, before the establishment of the Taj Palace. Swamiji stressed on making Indians conscious of their own strength. Coincidentally, Jamsetjee was thrown out of the Watson’s Hotel, by Europeans. As a consequence, he went on to build the grandest and the most expensive hotel, The Taj, symbolic of India’s wealth and progress.
Vinoba Bhave praised this preaching of Swamiji, he has taught “The same Soul resides in each and all,” and thus, denouncing discrimination. The first Indian Governor-General, Chakravarty Rajagopalachari, epitomised Vivekananda as the saviour of Hinduism in India. Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan felt that it was due to Vivekanda’s teachings that Indians could rely on their moral strength and cultural strategy, at a time when Indian youth was doomed in “despair, frustration and hopelessness.”
Even Gandhiji, The Father of the Nation, considered that Vivekananda’s writings had increased his love for nation by a thousand-fold. Vivekananda, after having attended the Parliament of World Religions, at Chicago, in 1893, came to have a profound impact, on almost all sections of the Europeans, a major number of whom converted to Hinduism, to spread the “Indian cultural message,” throughout the world.
Professor John Henry Wright, invited Vivekananda, to give a speech at Harvard University. He was one of the first men, to invite Swamiji, giving the recluse, a distinction. Indologist Max Mueller, a German historian, and professor, was also said to have been influenced by Vivekananda, this leading him to study India, it’s culture, it’s people, it’s tradition and discovering the secrets of the land.
One of the most eminent disciples of Vivekananda was Emma Calve, French Opera singer, who in her autobiography had stated, “It has been my good fortune and my joy to know a man who truly “walked with God,” a noble being, a saint, a philosopher, and a true friend. His influence on my spiritual life was profound. He opened up new horizons before me, enlarging and vivifying my religious ideas and ideals, teaching me a broader understanding of truth. My soul will bear him eternal gratitude.”
Rockefeller made his first philanthropic contribution, after he had a talk with Vivekananda who insisted that he help the poor and distressed people. Will Durant, American Philosopher, and historian, claimed that Vivekananda’s speech was more ‘virile’ than the ones of the Vedic times.
Swamiji also influenced President Sukarno of Indonesia, whom he advised to serve his people, and his nation, remaining strong, and courageous enough, to take any decisive decision frankly. Chelyshev predicted that the memory of Vivekananda would never ever fade away. Chinese scholar, Huan Xin Chuan stated that Vivekananda was the most renowned social figure of modern China, being respected there as well and Chinese socialists carefully studied the works of Vivekananda.
The most notable among his devotees were Margaret Noble, famous as Sister Nivedita, who dedicated her life towards the service of India and it’s people, and their cause. Marie Louise (a French woman) became Swami Abhayananda, and Leon Landsberg became Swami Kripananda, after Swamiji’s instigation.
Vivekananda has continued to play a pivotal role, not only in matters of the Indian governance but also, matters relating to International Affairs, he has spread the light of his enlightened knowledge, almost on every subject and aspect, he could have. “The powers of the mind are like the rays of the sun….when they are concentrated, they illumine.”
Vivekananda will continue to live among us, in our ideals, our ways, our culture, tradition, beliefs, and faith, he has been one of the first to introduce the glory of the ancient civilisation and it’s people to the Western world, who simply watched in awe.