Thursday, May 9, 2013

An Indian Saint’s contribution(s) to the society

Group 2 [Age 8-11 yrs]
Ria Puri- Newbury Park, CA

An Indian Saint’s contribution(s) to the society

The Saints and their works are living examples of tolerance, of patience, of tenacity and of faith, above all humility and service. Trying to talk on Saints of India is like choosing one flower in a garden in bloom. On the occasion of 150th birthday of Swami Vivekananda, I choose to write on his life teachings as my tribute to him.
Swami Vivekananda was the great awakener of the soul of India in modern times, whose magnificent personality and electrifying words infused faith and courage, love and sympathy, service and sacrifice in the hearts of millions of Indians.
Swami Vivekananda, known in his pre-monastic life as Narendra Nath Datta, was born in an affluent family in Kolkata on 12 January 1863. His father, Vishwanath Datta, was a successful attorney with interests in a wide range of subjects, and his mother, Bhuvaneshwari Devi, was endowed with deep devotion and strong character. A gifted boy, Narendra excelled in music, gymnastics and studies. By the time he graduated from Calcutta University, he had acquired a vast knowledge of different subjects, especially Western philosophy and history. Born with a yogic temperament, he used to practice meditation even from his boyhood, and was associated with Brahmo Movement for some time.
One day, he came across Shree Ramakrishna, a great Saint and from there his journey of transformation of himself as well as the transformation of the Society started. He transformed from a restless, puzzled and impatient youth, to a mature man who was ready to renounce everything for the sake of God-realization. In time, Narendra accepted Ramakrishna as his guru, and surrendered completely with all his heart. Narendra Nath Dutta now became Swami Vivekananda.
Identity and Unity - One main contribution that Swami Vivekananda made to Hinduism was to give it a proper identity, a totality, wholeness. Swami Vivekananda gave Hinduism not only its identity but also unity. By going to America as the first Hindu missionary to West, by representing Hinduism at the Parliament of Religions in 1893, and by preaching Hinduism in the West, Swamiji himself became the symbol of unity of Hinduism.
Preservation of Hinduism’s rich diversity - Sri Ramakrishna and Swami Vivekananda accepted the whole of Hinduism with all its diversity. By accepting and revitalizing all the diversities they helped to preserve them.
Universalization: In ancient time, Sanatana Dharma or Eternal Religion of Indian subcontinent was a universal religion, in a sense that it was open to all. But during Middle ages Hinduism became a narrow ethnic religion’. Swamiji took this task to make Hinduism once again a universal religion open to all people and races. He wanted that India’s message of spirituality should spread to all parts of the world and bring spiritual enlightenment to all people.
Hinduism’s rise to fame: At the end of the 19th century, people in the West had a poor opinion of India and Hindus. Hinduism was regarded as a religion of superstitions, and Hindus as people who worshipped idols, the cow and the snake. Swamiji changed this wrong view. According to Swamiji, religion has an essential inner core and a non-essential outer shell. The non-essential shell consists of myths, rituals, customs, festivals, etc. The essential core comprises spirituality.
Swamiji traveled India far and wide to understand the country and its people. He realized that this great country needed to be awakened to its great and glorious past. While he is widely credited with having uplifted his own nation, simultaneously he introduced Yoga and Vedanta to America and England. Vivekananda was the first known Hindu Sage to come to the West, where he introduced Eastern thought at the World's Parliament of Religions, in connection with the World's Fair in Chicago, in 1893. Here, his first lecture, which started with this line "Sisters and Brothers of America," made the audience clap for two minutes.
One important lesson he claimed to receive from Ramakrishna was that "Jiva is Shiva” (each individual is divinity itself). This became his Mantra, and he coined the concept of daridra Narayan seva - the service of God in and through (poor) human beings. According to him, all humans were pure spirits and hence shred an essential identity.
Swami Vivekananda spent the rest of his life in preaching the message of spirituality and universal goodwill. He inspired the thinking of several other national and international leaders and philosophers. He attained mahasamadhi in 1905 A.D. and passed away the young age of 39, thus fulfilling his own prophecy: 'I shall not live to be forty years old.'
For centuries to come people everywhere will be inspired by Swami Vivekananda's message: Oman! First realize that you are one with Brahman — aham Brahmasmi — and then realize that the whole universe is verily the same Brahman — sarvam khalvidam Brahma.

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