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'The Universal Message of Hindu Dharma according to Swami Vivekananda' by Prof. S. Naganath




In the 21st century, Swami Vivekananda is considered as a rationalist with secular outlook. He interpreted Hindu Dharma in the light of Sri Ramakrishna’s teachings. Max Muller in his book on “Sri Ramakrishna” quotes the words of Ramakrishna, “As a lamp does not burn without oil, so a man cannot live without God”. He told modern man God was essential to man’s existence. According to John. C. Travell, a congregational minister, “Ramakrishna found God in each religion because he did not merely take from them what fitted his own ideas, he sought first to know them from the inside, to understand them for themselves. His devotion was always to God and the truth first. His belief in the underlying unity and harmony of all religions was an expression of that learning.


Swami Vivekananda preached the ancient Santana (ever new) Dharma of India. He did not invent a new school of Philosophy but preached “Advaita Vedanta”. The Sanskrit word ‘Vedanta” does not mean the end of philosophical thinking, but the beginning of new thinking on the lines of monism or non-duality. What is the Universal message of this Santana Dharma? We can summarize it in two words – “Harmony” (Sanskrit word “Samarasya”) and “peace”. The word “peace” does not do justice to the Sanskrit word “Shanti”. The concept of Harmony exists in other religions like Christianity and Buddhism. Every Rig Vedic hymn begins with Shanti Mantra and ends with Shanti Mantra. The Shanti Mantra has a threefold effect Adibauthika, Ayathmika and Adidaivika. Swami Vivekananda writing on Hindu Dharma says, “The whole world is worshipping God. Wherever there is life, there is an urge or desire to search and discover freedom. This freedom is God.” We worship this idol of freedom and find God in nature. Vivekananda says without having an idea of freedom, we cannot move or be alive. The elixir of life is freedom. Man struggles with such forces as bondage and liberation, darkness and light (ignorance and knowledge) and finally good and evil. The modern man in his day-to-day struggle wants to conquer nature and attain gratification through his five senses. But slowly man realized that his baser instincts cannot give his mind and soul any Shanthi. What he is seeking is liberation of his soul from bondage? Behind the veil of this ignorance, he discerns a flicker of light. Gradually this dim light becomes brighter and brighter and purifies his soul. An ever-increasing knowledge (Jnana) of nature gives man a greater control over it. It is human nature versus physical nature. One day he understands, which is omnipresent and omniscient.


In this atmosphere of total freedom, man becomes humble. The humbled soul of man attains peace, which is beyond words. In this state man enjoys absolute freedom without any restrictions. This is a changeless state. This enlightened man suffers from no abnormalities or fears. Swami Vivekananda says this is the goal of every man, that is to realize this inner freedom.





In the words of Swami Vivekananda this God is wholesome, unseen, all knowing and one who has understood the mystical secrets of nature. Even when man commits sin, he is exercising the very same freedom. Hence, this freedom prompts man to do good things and bad things. What is the driving force behind this freedom? What prompts us to act? Swami Vivekananda says the driving force behind the acts of freedom is “Chethana”. This very same Chethana is called by Chinese as “Chi”. The whole cosmic universe is driven by this formidable force “Chethana”. The fear of death has tormented mankind from millions of years. The idea of sin, the pangs of sorrow and fear of the unknown has plagued mankind. If you try to run away from it, there is no escape. It catches with you with greater force in double time. But Swami Vivekananda gives the real-life examples of a group of serious monkeys chasing him in the forest. He began to run in fear. Suddenly, an inner voice told him to stop and face the monkeys boldly. Soon the monkeys retreated from the scene. Similarly, if man faces his doubts and fears boldly, he can overcome the common griefs. When the thunder and lightning strike a man, he is helpless and despondent. This human body becomes a screen between God and man’s soul. When man suffers from a feeling of shame, sorrow and guilt, he should not forget in times of crisis God. The Hindu God is an incarnate of Nishakola, Niranjano, Nirvikalpo and Nirakyatho “shuddha Devo”. According to Upanishads this spiritual journey is compared to a walk on the razor’s edge. Swami Vivekananda unequivocally condemned blind regressive religious practices of Hindus. He rejected caste system, untouchability, superstitions, ill treatment of women and neglect of poor people. There is no doubt he sensitized both Western and Eastern disciples. He waged a war against ignorance, poverty and disease. What is the universal message of Hindu Dharma? One is harmony and the other one is peace. The need of the hour is global harmony from micro to macro level. All three kinds of Shanti are necessary to save mankind. Who can reject these eternal gifts of Hinduism to the world.?


- by Prof. S. Naganath

 


Bibliography:

 

1.     What is Dharma? By Swami Vivekananda

2.     Western Admirers of Ramakrishna and his disciples – by Gopal Stavig

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