Pausha Krishna 4, Vik. Samvat 2073.Yugabda 5118: 16 January, 2016
1. FESTIVALS: Vijaya Ekadashi is the eleventh day of Phalgun Krishna Paksh corresponding to February 22 this year. Vijay means victory. Bhagwan Ram was advised by sage Vakadalbhya to cross ocean on this day. Bhagwan Ram heeded to his advice and attained victory over Ravana.
The day has special significance for Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh. It was on this day in Vikram Samvat 1962, 19th February 1906 that Guruji, Madhav Sadashivrao Golwalkar was born. Madhav got Diksha from Swami Akhandananda, the disciple of Swami Ramakrishna Paramahansa but he did not become a Sanyasi. He guided lakhs of Swayamsevaks by inculcating values of right living in them. -goTop
2. PRAVASI BHARATIYA DIVAS 2017: The annual global convention for the Bharatiya diaspora, Pravasi Bharatiya Divas 2017 was held in Bengaluru from January 7 to 9 with a record participation since its inception. Fourteen States, including Karnataka, Kerala, Assam, Haryana and Madhya Pradesh had put up stalls at the exhibition. Foreign dignitaries including Surinamese Vice-President Michael Ashwin Adhin, Portuguese Prime Minister Antonio Costa and chief ministers from seven states participated in the event.
Pradhan Mantri Narendra Modi, in his speech, emphasised on FDI being both foreign direct investment (FDI) and 'first development of India'. He appealed to the non-resident Bharatiya community, 'Put your money where your mouth is.' While foreign direct investment has grown significantly over the last two years or so, there is still much that the well-off non-resident Bharatiyas can do in investing in their country of origin. By reminding them that they are Bharat's brand ambassadors abroad, Pradhan Mantri invested in them enormous trust, which the non-resident Bharatiyas cannot but work to uphold.
The Pravasi Bharatiya Samman Awards were conferred by Rashtrapati Pranab Mukherjee at the Convention on 9th January in the valedictory session. Out of the total 30 awardees selected by an 11 member committee headed by Uparashtrapatiji, Six were from USA, two each from United Arab Emirates and UK and one each from Australia, Bahrain, Belgium, Brunei, Canada, Djibouti, Fiji, France, Israel, Japan, Libya, Malayasia, Mauritius, Portugal, Qatar, Singapore, Thailand and Trinidad and Tobago. Three prominent office bearers of Vishwa Hindu Parishad namely Dr Maheshbhai Mehta and Ramesh Shah from USA and Sushil Saraf from Thailand were among the awardees. -goTop
3. SCHOLARS CONVERGE AT BENGALURU TO CHANGE DISCOURSE ON JAMMU & KASHMIR: A strategic gathering of academic and legal experts, senior Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) functionaries and political leadership discussed in Bengaluru on January 6-7, the road map to correct the discourse on Jammu and Kashmir, which has been distorted by forces inimical to Bharat's interests.The national confluence of scholars was organised to mark the conclusion of millennium year celebrations of Kashmir's great philosopher Acharya Abhinavagupta. Art of Living Foundation hosted the 40-session scholars meet. Sri Sri Ravishankar has presided over the year-long celebrations of Acharya Abhinavagupta.
Addressing the gathering of over 300 scholars, strategists and legal luminaries, Union HRD Minister Prakash Javadekar said Acharya Abhinavagupta was the embodiment of Bharatiya thought, which has always questioned established norms and created positive change.
RSS Sarkaryawah Suresh alias Bhaiyyaji Joshi said, "Acharya Abhinavagupta propagated the basic principles of Bharatiya thought through Shaiva philosophy - from Kashmir in the north to the southernmost areas of Bharat." In his address, Sri Sri Ravishankar said true intellectuals are celebrated beyond centuries and Acharya Abhinavagupta was such an amazing thinker and philosopher.
Others who addressed the conference were Arun Kumar, member of Akhil Bharatiya Karyakari Parishad of RSS, Dr Nirmal Singh, the deputy Chief Minister Jammu and Kashmir, RSS Akhil Bharatiya Sah-Prachar Pramukh J. Nandakumar etc. The Confluence included eight simultaneous dialogue sessions on different aspects of Abhinavagupta's works as also current issues - issues having far-reaching implications vis-a-vis Jammu Kashmir state. -goTop
4. HINDUS AND JEWS GAIN GROUND IN NEW US CONGRESS: This is for the first time in American history that the Congress has three Hindu members - Tulsi Gabbard, Raja Krishnamoorthi and Ro Khanna. After Jews, who have 30 members in the new US Congress, Hindus and Buddhism, each having three members jointly share the third spot in terms of religious ranking of US Congress members, according to Pew Research Center analysis.
Among the 293 Republicans elected to serve in the 115th Congress, all but two identify as Christians; there are two Jewish Republicans - Lee Zeldin of New York and David Kustoff of Tennessee - who both serve in the House.The 242 Democrats in Congress include 28 Jews, three Buddhists, three Hindus, two Muslims and one Unitarian Universalist - as well as the only member of Congress to describe herself as religiously unaffiliated, Kyrsten Sinema from Arizona. -goTop
PAKISTAN'S MISSING: Pakistan appears to be lurching towards totalitarianism,
with at least five bloggers and independent civil society activists having
mysteriously 'disappeared' over the last fortnight. The evidence points towards
state involvement in their disappearances. All of them questioned state
policies; their families have reported men in plain clothes taking them away in
unmarked cars in similar fashion; they have been targeted through orchestrated
online smear campaigns; and the assumption within Pakistan is that they have
been kidnapped by the government to silence independent voices.
This used to be a common fate of Balochi activists before, but now such practices have reached deep into the Pakistani mainstream with the current abductions being reported from Islamabad and Punjab. Major cities have witnessed protests demanding their immediate release; nevertheless bloggers and activists are even more vulnerable than journalists in Pakistan. Human Rights Watch, the UN and US state department have all expressed concern at the fate of the disappeared. India should not remain a silent spectator.
As one of South Asia's most stable democracies, India should speak out in defence of human rights in the region. New Delhi recently made human rights in Balochistan an area of concern following Pakistan's all-out intervention in Indian Kashmir. This concern should extend, logically, to the persecuted in other parts of Pakistan - keeping in mind that the democratic constituency intersects largely with the peace constituency as well. Given the shrinking space for freedom in Pakistan New Delhi should not only call for the activists' release but also offer asylum to persecuted dissidents, who may want a safe space to pursue their activism within Pakistan. That's how the West trumped the Soviet Union during the Cold War; today's instantaneous means of communication make it even easier to amplify voices across borders.- Editorial, Times of India, January 16, 2016.
6. SERVE THE SOCIETY WITHOUT EXPECTING ANYTHING IN EXCHANGE: RSS Sarsanghachalak Shri Mohan Bhagwat while speaking at the Virat Hindu Sammelan organised on the concluding ceremony of Bharat Sewashram Sangh centenary celebration on December 31 in Vasanda, Gujarat said, "We have to strengthen the society without expecting anything from Sarkar. We have to serve the society without expecting anything in exchange. This will not only strengthen the Hindu society but will also send a good message to the entire world." International general secretary of Bharat Sevashram Sangh Swami Vishwatmanand Maharaj, joint secretary Swami Ambarishananda Maharaj, Swami Santprasad Maharaj of Swaminarayan Mandir (Halol-Kalol) and Prince of Vasanda Jaivirendra Singh also addressed the gathering. More than 50,000 Vanvasis were present on the occasion. -goTop
7. SWAYAMSEVAKS ARE SOCIAL MESSENGERS: MOHAN BHAGWAT: Sarasanghachalakji on January 1 said that swayamsevaks are like social messengers who instill good values among citizens. Bhagwat was speaking at the 60th year celebration of RSS magazine 'Sadhna' in Ahmedabad. Speaking as the chief guest of the event, Bhagwat added that the society has always felt the need of media which can speak with decency, with facts and which can reach out to the masses to help form ideas for betterment of society."Now, people get information through internet and though types of media have changed, the society still needs media which will disseminate hope, positive ideas and good values," he said.Swayamsevaks have been doing this kind of information dissemination all along, Shri Bhagwat added. -goTop
8. 8TH VIBRANT GUJARAT SUMMIT: BHARAT EMERGING AS GLOBAL R&D HUB: MODI: "Bharat is emerging as the global Research and Development hub with the country producing the second largest number of scientists and engineers, said Pradhan Mantri Narendra Modi at the summit. Foreign Direct Investment in the last two fiscals was 60 per cent higher than in previous two years." he added. Outlining Bharat’s strength of 3 Ds - Demography, Democracy and Demand - Modi also spoke about his ambitious 'Make in Bharat' initiative. He pointed out that his Government was on course to achieve the ambitious target of providing a roof over every poor's head by 2022.
The theme of the four-day 8th edition of the Summit is 'Sustainable Economic and Social Development'. The Presidents of Kenya and Rwanda, Prime Ministers of Portugal and Serbia, Deputy PM of Russia, besides Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, Railways Minister Suresh Prabhu and the Chief Ministers of Gujarat, Maharashtra and Arunachal Pradesh Vijay Rupani, Devendra Fadnavis and Pema Khandu respectively too attended the Summit. -goTop
9. A STRONG AND VIRTUOUS BHARAT IS THE NEED OF THE UNIVERSE - SURESH SONI: "Bharat is an eternal nation; it is the soul of the humanity. And to make a strong and virtuous Bharat is the need of the universe. This can be achieved only through making the people understand the basic tenets of Hindu dharma and only Sanskrit can be vehicle for this change", said Suresh Soni, RSS Sahsarkaryavah while delivering the keynote address in the special program attended by about 2000 delegates during the All Bharat Convention of the Sanskrit Bharati at Udupi, Karnataka on January 10. Shri Shri Vishweshteerth Swamy, the pontiff of the Paryaya Shree Pejawar Adhokshaja Mutt, Udupi, Shri Shri Nirmalanandnath Mahaswami of the Adi Chunchungiri Mahasansthan Mutt, Shri Dharmapalnath Swami of the Shakha Mutt, Bhaktvatsal Sharma, the newly elected national president of the Sanskrita Bharati were present on the Dias. -goTop
10. SARKAR GIVES 'PAISA', KALYAN ASHRAM GIVES 'DISHA', said Smt Draupadi Murmu, Jharkhand Rajyapal at the foundation day of Vanvasi Kalyan Ashram and its founder Bala Saheb Deshpande’s birth anniversary celebration in Bhubaneswar on December 26. "19,200 sewa projects are being run by the Kaylan Ashram in Vanvasi villages for their development. Protection of Vanvasi culture is really a basic service. Writing books on Vanvasi heroes, literature on festivals and rituals is a great service to the rural people," the Rajyapal added.
Kalyan Ashram vice president Kripa Prasad Singh, as the chief speaker said that 1,33,431 students are getting education in Kalyan Ashram schools, hostels and informal education centres. This year the health workers treated 11,42,667 patients in remote area. Beneficiaries of village development, skill development, SHG and other economic development projects are more than a lakh. He said about 2,000 full time workers, part timeworkers and Vistaraks are working in the Vanvasi areas. Others who graced the occasion included JP Mishra, Haricharan Bandra, Dr Sanjit Kumar Panda and RSS National Executive Member Sunil Pada Goswami. -goTop
11. IIT KHARAGPUR ALUMNUS WINS
TECHNICAL ACHIEVEMENT OSCAR: Bharatiya-American Parag Havaldar, a computer
engineer from IIT Kharagpur, is part of the Academy Awards' list of winners for
Techinical achievement. The list of 18 achievements was recently announced by
the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences for its 2017 Scientific and
Technical awards and Havaldar is honoured for the development of
expression-based facial performance-capture technology at Sony Pictures
Imageworks. "This pioneering system enabled large-scale use of animation
rig-based facial performance-capture for motion pictures, combining solutions
for tracking, stabilisation, solving and animator-controllable curve editing," a
release from the Academy said. The awards will be handed out on February 11 in
Beverly Hills, ahead of the main Oscar ceremony to be held on February 26.
The technology developed by him and his group has been used to create stylised and realistic character animations in a variety of movies including "Alice in Wonderland", "Monster House", "Hancock" and "Spiderman". -goTop
12. CHANDRASEKARAN, A MARATHON MAN, BECOMES TATA GROUP CHAIRMAN: Natarajan Chandrasekaran, the 53-year old MD and CEO of Bharat’s largest technology company TCS, has been elevated as the first non-Parsi and first professional executive to head the country's largest, $100 billion conglomerate. He will take over as executive chairman from February 21, becoming the seventh in the 149-year history of the salt-to-software conglomerate and only the third 'non-Tata' after Mistry and Nowroji Saklatwala. Chandra joined what was then Tata Consultancy Services in 1987 as a computer programmer and became its MD and CEO in 2009. Besides being an insider, Chandra has also consistently delivered over the seven years that he has led TCS, the crown jewel of the Tata - revenues have grown 262% since 2009-10, net profit 247%, and it is the most valuable company in Bharat with a market capitalization of Rs 4.62 lakh crores. It contributes 10% of the Tata Group's tatal reveues 40% of its profit and 70% of its market value.
N Chandrasekaran is also a world traveler when it comes to running long-distance races. From Berlin to Amsterdam, from Boston to Tokyo and from Mumbai to New York, Chandra has run more than a dozen marathons in these cities since he took to running about seven years ago. -goTop
13. WORLD'S FIRST "BRAILLE ATLAS" FOR THE BLIND MADE IN BHARAT: We have seen the map read and learnt the map but for the blind who has never known it, this comes as a 'box of surprise'. As blind people have strong sense of touch the newly made map will be made accessible for blind people.
The National Atlas and Thematic Mapping Organization of Kolkata have stepped forward to make such unique atlas. In this version of Atlas, the map outlines are raised and embossed on paper using silk screen printing in order to feel them. This is called as "Braille Atlas." This initiative taken by NATMO will help to bridge the gap between Bharatiya science and the social need.Prithvish Nag, Surveyor General of Bharat, said "This is the first full atlas for the blind in the world. Most other efforts in the world have been to make individual-tactile maps but to make a full atlas which can be mass produced, this Bharatiya effort that." -goTop
14. PM INAUGURATES COUNTRY'S FIRST INTERNATIONAL BOURSE: Pradhan Mantri Narendra Modi on January 9 put Bharat on the global capital markets' map as he inaugurated the country's first international stock exchange named India International Exchange at the Gujarat International Finance Tec-city (GIFT) in Gandhinagar. "Bharat is in excellent time zone and this will enable trading at IndiaInx 22 hours a day, starting when the Japanese markets start and closing when the US markets close," Modi said after inaugurating the exchange. Terming the event "momentous", Modi pointed out that the world class facilities at Gift City-touted as Bharat's first smart city with next-in-class infrastructure-will be for world class talent in finance and technology at IndiaInx.
IndiaInx under the Bombay Stock Exchange will be one of the fastest exchanges in the world trading in currencies, equities, commodities, derivatives, and even masala bonds in near future. -goTop
15. KNIGHTHOOD FOR BHARATIYA-ORIGIN DNA EXPERT: Shankar Balasubramanian, a Bharatiya-origin British professor of chemistry and DNA expert at Cambridge University, has received a Knighthood along with Olympic stars Andy Murray and Mo Farah among others by Queen Elizabeth II for their contributions.
Balasubramanian, 50, Herchel Smith Professor of Medicinal Chemistry at Cambridge University, has been recognised for his work as a co-inventor of Next Generation DNA sequencing, described as the most transformational advance in biology and medicine for decades. -goTop
16. PIO APPOINTED TO TOP MILITARY POST IN KYRGYZSTAN: Bharatiya-origin Saudi-based entrepreneur has been appointed Major General of Kyrgyzstan, a rare military position occupied by a Bharatiya in the central Asian country. Shaikh Rafik Mohammed, who hails from Kerala, was appointed Major General of Kyrgyzstan by defence minister Ali Mirza. It is a rare military position occupied by an overseas Keralite, said Omar Abu Baker, media adviser of Rafik. Rafik was invited by the Kyrgyzstan government to take up the prestigious military position in view of his earlier contribution to the country. -goTop
17. BHARAT'S PER CAPITA INCOME TO CROSS RS 1 LAKH IN FY17: As per the 'First Advance Estimates of National Income, 2016-17’ released by the Central Statistics Office (CSO), the per capita net national income during 2016-17 is "estimated to be Rs 1,03,007" at current prices.This is higher by 10.4 per cent compared to Rs 93,293 during 2015-16."The per capita income in real terms (at 2011-12 prices) during 2016-17 is likely to attain a level of Rs 81,805 as compared to Rs 77,435 for the year 2015-16," the estimates said. -goTop
18. NRIS, BHARATIYAS TRAVELLING GET A BREATHER: Non-Resident Bharatiyas and citizens who happened to be overseas at the time of demonetisation will be given an opportunity to deposit scrapped notes of Rs 500 and Rs 1000 denomination. Bharatiya citizens will have time until March 31, 2017, to exchange their notes while foreigners can do so until June 30, 2017. NRIs will have to provide customs certificate about import of the scrapped notes. The deposits will have to be made personally by the owners of the funds and no third party deposits will be allowed. "While there is no monetary limit for exchange for the eligible Resident Indians, the limit for NRIs will be as per the relevant FEMA Regulations," said RBI. -goTop
19. SHRI VISHWA NIKETAN: Pravas: RSS sarkaryavaha Bhayya ji Joshi would return to Bharat after his tour to South Africa. Saumitra Gokhale samyojak Vishwa Vibhag will return to USA and Dr Ram Vaidya sahsamyojak will rerun to UK. Visitors: Khanderao Kand, Chander Malik -USA, Sanjiv Bhakri - Australia, Ranbir Singh Rathi & others - Hong Kong
FOOD FOR THOUGHT: The emancipation of Bharat needs the razor-like intelligence of a Shri Shankaracharya and the limitless compassion of a Bhagwan Buddha. -- Swami Vivekanand. -goTop
JAI SHREE RAM
SWAMI VIVEKANANDA'S VISION OF UNIVERSAL RELIGION AND THE WEST
The very name of Swami Vivekananda sends through us a stirring current of strength. "I am one of the proudest men ever born" he proclaimed while speaking about his Hindu roots, "but let me tell you frankly, it is not for myself, but on account of my ancestry."
Only the sinners live long, goes an adage. It shouldn't be taken to mean that all those who live long are sinners. But the reverse of it is also equally true. Lives of many great men are shorter. Adi Shankara, for instance, lived for only three decades. Shivaji died at the age of 51. Similarly, Vivekananda's life was short. Born in 1863, he died at a very young age of 39, in 1902. But the amount of good work that he did in such a short period can be gauged from the fact that even after over a century since his demise, he is still considered as the most powerful youth icon and an inspiration to the country.
Among his contemporaries was Mahatma Gandhi, though they never met. On a visit to the Ramakrishna Mutt at Belur, which was founded by Vivekananda, Gandhi claimed that his patriotism grew a thousand-fold after reading Vivekananda.
I have gone through his works very thoroughly, and after having gone through them, the love that I had for my country became a thousand-fold.
Romain Rolland, renowned French philosopher and Nobel prize winner, had authored a biography of Vivekananda. He had boundless admiration for Swamiji.
I cannot touch these sayings of his . . .without receiving a thrill through my body like an electric shock . . .what transports must have been produced when in burning words they issued from the lips of the hero.
Rolland also once said that his greatest regret in life was not to have met Vivekananda and learnt at his feet.
Vivekananda was a revolutionary monk, revolutionary in the sense that he possessed great courage and conviction to defend Hinduism abroad on the one hand, and severely jolt Hindus out of their slumber through his harsh admonition, on the other. He was relentless in his efforts to carry the message of Vedanta to every nook and corner of the world, but he was also ruthless in exposing the fallacies and superstitions that were eating into the vitals of Hinduism domestically.
His visit to the United States to take part in the World's Parliament of Religions (WPR) at Chicago in August 1893 was a turning point in the history of Hinduism. That was not an easy time. India was under British rule, as a slave country. Hinduism was a much-denounced religion in the West, thanks to the overzealous missionaries who wanted to make some extra money by portraying India in a negative light. Moreover, this young man of just 30 was a completely unknown entity both in India as well as abroad.
But once Vivekananda set foot on American soil, he was unstoppable. He faced great difficulty, especially with the lack of money and lack of acquaintances in a faraway foreign land. But fearlessness was his character, and knowledge and oratory his weapons. He displayed exceptional knowledge and oozed self-confidence. That is why when he wanted an introduction from Professor John Henry Right of Boston University for participation in the WPR, the learned professor responded by saying, "To ask you, Swami, for your credentials is like asking the sun to state its right to shine."
We must also recall that Vivekananda was the first Indian to be invited to chair the Department of Oriental Philosophy at Harvard University, though he politely declined.
The WPR was a first-of-its-kind interfaith event in those times. The host committee was chaired by a clergyman, John Barrows. Around 190 papers were presented at the event, majority of them by Christian scholars. Vivekananda spoke thrice in that 10-day conference. It is well-known that he became the centre of attraction because of his unique thoughts and unparalleled oratory. His very first words, "Dear Brothers and Sisters of America", attracted a thunderous applause for a good couple of minutes. He left an indelible impression on the audience through his authentic portrayal of Hinduism and Vedanta.
It is important to consider the background of the Chicago event. Promoted by a predominantly Christian group, the event received both curiosity and condemnation before it actually kicked off. The Archbishop of Canterbury had sent a letter of disapproval from London saying, "the Christian religion is the one religion. I do not understand how that religion can be regarded as a member of a Parliament of Religions without assuming the equality of the other intended members and the parity of their position and claims."
Vivekananda propagated the idea of a 'universal religion' and equated it with Vedanta. The organisers, including Barrows, were undoubtedly impressed by his vision and oration, but at the same time they saw in his philosophy a threat to Christianity. His inclusivism was acceptable to them to the extent that it didn't challenge the primacy of Christianity. Barrows' report said.
The Parliament has shown that Christianity is still the great quickener of humanity, that it is now educating those who do not accept its doctrines, that there is no teacher to be compared with Christ, and no Saviour excepting Christ . . . The non-Christian world may give us valuable criticism and confirm scriptural truths and make excellent suggestion as to Christian improvement, but it has nothing to add to the Christian creed.
In his "Review and Summary" of the Parliament, Barrows seemed to attack Vivekananda directly by saying:
The idea of evolving a cosmic or universal faith out of the Parliament was not present in the minds of its chief promoters. They believe that the elements of such a religion are already contained in the Christian ideal and the Christian Scripture. They had no thought of attempting to formulate a universal creed.
However, the WPR had provided an excellent opportunity for a new star to rise on the spiritual horizon of the world. Many prominent papers of the time had carried articles eulogising the ideas and ideals presented by Vivekananda in the form of Vedanta or universal religion. "We are carrying coal to Newcastle", wrote a paper suggesting that it was an insult to send Christian missionaries to a land from where Vivekananda came.
During his four-year sojourn in the West, Vivekananda had propagated the glorious Indian idea of universality of spiritual thought. He believed that like all other things, spirituality and religion too had to pass the test of scientific exploration. Mere belief, according to him, was not enough. Religions had to stand the test of scrutiny and investigation of science. "If a religion is destroyed by such investigations, it was then all the time useless, unworthy superstition; and the sooner it goes, the better". When someone asked him about Vedanta, he responded in the affirmative about the scientific basis of his religion.
In the ninth chapter of Bhagavad Gita, Krishna tells Arjuna that he was imparting him 'Jnanam Vignana Sahitam', meaning spiritual knowledge that is in consonance with scientific knowledge.
Universal religion or Vedanta is not a negation of the existence of multiple religions. It is based on the statement by Gitacharya in the fourth chapter of the Gita, ye yatha mam prapadyante, tams tathaiva bhajamy aham, meaning whoever worships me in whatever form, I am That. Vivekananda used to quote this verse from the Gita to state that Vedanta is not an exclusivist or superior religion but one that every human being should attain in the evolutionary process of spiritual thought.
Through Vedanta, Vivekananda tried to dispel the notion in the West about Hinduism being a religion of many gods. Since the Semitic world believed in the monotheistic conception of God, Hinduism to them was polytheism. Vivekananda would contest this understanding to explain that the Vedantic philosophy in Hinduism proposed omnipresence of God and, hence, if one were to explain Hinduism in those terms, it ought to be categorised as omnitheism, not polytheism.
Despite his eager support and propagation of Vedanta and universal religion in the West, Vivekananda had some harsh words for his countrymen. A modernist at the core, he was aghast at the depravity, poverty and superstition at the time in his motherland. He had openly revolted against these aspects and condemned the practitioners of those false faiths in the harshest of terms.
On his way to America, Vivekananda had the opportunity to visit Japan. He spent considerable time visiting several cities like Tokyo and Osaka. His letters to his fellow countrymen from Japan are instructive of his modernist outlook on the one hand, and his abhorrence for backward-looking ideas of the Hindu religion on the other.
"Come, see these people, and then go and hide your faces in shame", wrote Vivekananda in a letter to India on 10 July 1893, from Japan.
A race of dotards, you lose your caste if you come out! Sitting down these hundreds of years with an ever-increasing load of crystallized superstition on your heads, for hundreds of years spending all your energy upon discussing the touchableness or untouchableness of this food or that, with all humanity crushed out of you by the continuous social tyranny of ages - what are you? And what are you doing now? . . . promenading the sea-shores with books in your hands - repeating undigested stray bits of European brainwork, and the whole soul bent upon getting thirty-rupee clerkship, or at best becoming a lawyer - the height of young India's ambition - and every student with a whole brood of hungry children cackling at his heels and asking for bread! Is there not water enough in the sea to drown your books, gowns, university diplomas and all?
These words might sound harsh, but behind them laid a naked truth - of a great nation with universal hoary ideas being reduced to a despondent mass of hungry, uneducated and superstitious people.
In Rolland's words, Vivekananda, through his life and teachings, had wanted to awaken this mass of people, who were the inheritors of the world's greatest philosophical truths and wisdom. His obituary for Vivekananda read:
He was less than forty years of age when the athlete lay stretched upon the pyre. But the flame of that pyre is still alight today. From his ashes, like those of the Phoenix of old, has sprung anew the conscience of India. Oh Mother! Awake.
In Rabindranath Tagore's words, "If you want to know India, study Vivekananda. In him everything is positive and nothing negative". Let's each one of us study Vivekananda. Only then can we understand the real India.
(Ram Madhav is National General Secretary of the BJP and director of India Foundation.) -goTop