Margaret Noble, Sister Nivedita, introduces the Complete Works of Vivekananda whose Birthday on 12th January is celebrated as the National Youth Day, by highlighting the following profound issues:
· The CWs present a Universal Gospel, the Sanatana Dharma, for the benefit of all humanity but more specially to us, the Children of India, so that we may better understand, the Charter of the Hindu faith that was the faith of our ancestors.
· What Hinduism needed was the ‘organizing and consolidation of its own idea’, of a most ancient faith that had no fear of truth and was based, not just a belief in some doctrine of an ancient holy person, but on direct experiences of not just one prophet, but on direct experiences of a multitude of sages, Rishis; which must be, and is being, validated by actual experiences, even today – ‘Spiritually India is as great in the present as ever in the past’. (As Iqbal has said:‘Kuchh baat hai ki hasti mitati naheen hamari’).
· If one religion be true, then all others must also be true! Thus, Santana dharma is yours as much as mine. India has earlier also gone out to spread its unifying faith.
· We Hindus do not merely tolerate, we unite ourselves with every religion; we know that all religions alike are attempts to grasp and realize the infinite and so we bind all these flowers with the cord of love, making them into a bouquet for worship.
· When Vivekananda began to speak in the Chicago Parliament it was of ‘the religious ideas of the Hindu’; but when he ended Hinduism had been created.
· Parliament of Chicago represented the best and some worst of modern great minds and Western consciousness. And while the teeming life and eager interests could appear to be chaotic, they were a manifestation of noble and gradual ideal of human unity.
· Self-assured, overflowing with energy yet inquisitive and alert were the modern minds, to whom Vivekananda rose to speak.
· Behind him lay a very ancient world of the Vedas and Upanishads where even Buddhism was considered modern! A land filled with various religious systems of faiths and creeds, trod by a galaxy of saints and sages for ages and ages.
· Behind him lay India with her thousands of years of development in which she had sounded and proved many things, and realized certain fundamental and essential truths, held by all her people in common. (The Puranas, Ramayana, Mahabharat, Bhagavad, Gita, ideals flowing from Vedanta, e.g. All this, whatsoever there is, is pervaded by one God; worldview of “oneness” and a “subjective” focus, etc.)
· East and West were the two mind-floods, two immense rivers of thought, of which Vivekananda, for a moment, was the confluence and resulted in the formulation of the common bases of Hinduism.
· It was as if the religious consciousness of India that spoke thru’ him, the message of his whole people as determined by her past, while revealing the greatness and strength of all mankind.
· He presented a universal ideal of religion, where each religious path was only a travelling, a coming up, of different men, thru’ various conditions and circumstances, to the same Goal”.
· “All these are threaded upon Me, as pearls upon a string”. Wherever you see extraordinary holiness and power, raising and purifying humanity, know that God is there.
· To the Hindu “man is not travelling from error to truth, but climbing up form truth to truth, from lower to higher truth”
· This, and the teaching of Mukti, the doctrine that “man is to become divine by realizing the divine”, that the fruit of religion is to lead us to “Him who is the one life in a universe of death, Him who is the one constant ‘Existence’ (Satt), the one unchanging basis (Satyam) of an ever-changing world, that One who is the only soul, of which all souls are but delusive manifestations” (world is Satt, it ‘exists’ but it changes whereas God is changeless existence)
· These are the basic truths, authenticated by a galaxy of rishis, which India proclaimed thru’ him to the modern world of the West.
· Hinduism in its wholeness Vivekananda bases on the Veda, but adds that all that is true is Veda. By the Veda “no books are meant. They mean the accumulated treasury of spiritual laws discovered and experienced by different persons in different times”.
· He explains that Sanatana Dharma includes the highest spiritual flights of Vedanta, as also lower ideas of idolatry with its mythology, the agnosticism of Buddhism, atheism, etc. All these have a place in Hinduism. There could be no sect, no school, no sincere religious experience which may be excluded.
· Of this Indian Mother-Church, the distinctive doctrine is that of the Ishta-devata (worship of my personal God), the right of each soul to choose its own path, and to seek God in its own way; no army carries the banner of Hinduism. (Though first Buddha, and then Shankara organized Hinduism to suit the times and Shankara established the 4-Peetha in 4 corners of India, each responsible for one of the 4 Veda, and many other religious groups keep emerging to suit different people and times)
· For just as India’s spiritual goal is the finding of God, even so is her spiritual rule, the perfect freedom of every soul to be itself.
Views expressed above are the author’s own.
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