[dropcap]S[/dropcap]wami Vivekananda was inclined towards spirituality. He was influenced by his Guru, Ramakrishna Deva, from whom he learnt that all living beings were a quintessence of the divine self. Therefore, ‘Service to God’ could be rendered by ‘Service to mankind’. After Ramakrishna’s death, Vivekananda toured the Indian subcontinent extensively and acquired first-hand knowledge of the conditions prevailing in British India. He later travelled to the United States, representing India at the 1893 Parliament of the World Religions. Vivekananda conducted hundreds of public and private lectures and classes, disseminating tenets of Hindu philosophy in the United States, England and Europe. In India, Vivekananda is regarded as a patriotic saint and his birthday is celebrated as National Youth Day.
The influence of Swami Vivekananda on the Indian Nationalist Movement is well-known. He was not only a visionary or just a monk but a nationalist and a reformer par excellence. Many in our country think that religion, mysticism, social amelioration and political & economic reconstruction cannot unite. They declare that the secular and spiritual ideals are poles apart. Such a notion has been responsible for the gross misrepresentations of the spirit of Indian philosophy, religion and culture, but the mystics, the saints and the sages of India prove standing refutation of this gross misconception. India’s foreign domination is also attributed to her religion which is considered to be dreamy, idealistic, fatalistic, world-denying, pessimistic and unethical. Swami Vivekananda’s contribution to a faithful and sympathetic representation of India’s aspirations and ideals in foreign lands cannot be refuted. He not only created a lofty ‘Advaita Vedantic’ idea under new religious known as Ramkrishna Mission but also founded a new epoch in the life of the Indian people with social, economic, and political fronts.
There are vast proportions of unutilised materials with respect to his political and social views. He was a protagonist of Hindu Social ideas and a precursor of socialism. He championed the causes of the downtrodden masses and the exploited poor class. He was mature beyond his age and prophesied the rule of the proletariat. It is necessary, therefore, to put a thorough study of his social and political ideas when youth are attracting to the Western ideals without looking to its own treasures suitable to its surroundings. Today, political parties may be politicising his name owing him as their hero but they ignored to look at his views on politics. He always maintained that “I am not a politician or political agitator. I care only for the Spirit — when that is right everything will be right by itself…. Those who want to prove that I am a political preacher, to them I say, “Save me from my friends.”
In an interview published in the San Francisco Examiner, dated 18 March 1900, Vivekananda said, “I do not wish to talk on politics. I do not wish to discuss politics. I will have nothing to do with cowards or political nonsense. I do not believe in any politics. God and truth are the only politics in the world, everything else is trash. Religion is of deeper importance than politics, since it goes to the root, and deals with the essential of conduct.” The quarrels of politicians are very curious.
There was an article published in the Madras Times, in February 1897- which mentioned what Vivekananda said on politics of India and common man. The article stated some strong statements of Swamiji which says, “It will take ages to bring religion into politics. Swami Vivekananda always felt politics is not India’s subject. Once in an interview he said, “If you will come to India and talk with the workman in the field, you will find he has no opinion on politics. He knows nothing of politics. But you talk to him of religion, and the humblest knows about monotheism, deism, and all the isms of religion. You ask: “‘What government do you live under?’ and he will reply: ‘I don’t know. I pay my taxes, and that’s all I know about it.’ I have talked with your labourers, your farmers, and I find that in politics they are all posted. They are either Democrat or Republican, and they know whether they prefer free silver or a gold standard. But you talk to them of religion; they are like the Indian farmer, they don’t know, they attend such a church, but they don’t know what it believes; they just pay their pew rent, and that’s all they know about it — or God.” No amount of politics would be of any avail until the masses in India are once more well educated, well fed, and well cared for. Each nation, beyond a general humanity, develops a certain peculiarity of character — so in religion, so in politics, so in the physical body, so in mental habitude, so in men and women, so in character. One nation develops one peculiarity of character, another takes another peculiarity. Every nation wants to safeguard its supremacy, political interest, and commerce.
He believed that by this cultivation of religion and the wider diffusion of Vedanta, both this country and the West will gain enormously. To him, the pursuit of politics is a secondary means in comparison with this. He has laid down his life to carry out this belief practically. He said, “If you believe in any other way of accomplishing the good of India, well, you may go on working your own way.” In India, it is religion that forms the very core of the national heart. It is the backbone, the bed-rock, the foundation upon which the national edifice has been built. Politics, power and even intellect form a secondary consideration here. Religion, therefore, is the one consideration in India. Not politics nor military neither power, nor commercial supremacy or mechanical genius furnishes India with that backbone, but religion; and religion alone is all that we have and mean to have. I hope that today’s politicians, who are making noises in the name of Swami Vivekananda, at least read and understand his teachings for the betterment of the nation and its people.
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