Today is the birthday of Swami Vivekananda, the great Indian saint and scholar who made India proud in the Parliament of World’s Religions at Chicago in 1893 by delivering a mesmerizing speech on the prosperous Indian cultural and religious heritage and thereafter founded Ramkrishna Mission in 1897, an institute devoted to philanthropic, educational and cultural activities. Originally christened as Narendra, he became Vivekananda by devoting himself to the great saint – Swami Ramkrishna Paramhans who only could satisfy his logical queries regarding religion and God. Swami Vivekananda underscored the importance of a Shloka (Sanskrit couplet) from Kathopanishad – Uttishthat, Jaagrut, Praapya Varaannibodhat (arise, awake and stop not till the goal is reached). During his period, India was agonizing in the shackles of slavery of the British rule and after the failure of the freedom struggle of 1857, there was more or less an environment filled with despair and low spirits prevailing in the nation. Hence he called the youth to arise, awake and stop not till the goal (of independence of the nation or any other goal worthwhile for their lives) is reached. His call is timeless. It’s relevant even today and will continue to be relevant in the times to come.Since he himself achieved a lot in his short life (39 years only), he believed in the power of youth and wanted the young generation of the country to shed all laziness and indulgence and stand up for a cause worth time and energy. He did not want the youth of his nation to be weak, whether physically or mentally. He asserted -‘I want my countrymen to have muscles of iron and nerves of steel’. He was a bold man and despite being a saint, called for relinquishment of all superstitions and ostentations in the name of religion. He called his countrymen to keep humanity above everything else. His quote is – If your neighbour starves, it’s not a virtue but a sin to make offerings in the temple.Today, on his 155th birthday, I reiterate his call only and vow to try to follow it in my life – Uttishthat, Jaagrut, Praapya Varaannibodhat (arise, awake and stop not till the goal is reached).
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