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Swami Vivekananda’s Call
Swami Vivekananda was born in Shimla Pally, Calcutta, India, on January 12, 1863. He died on July 4, 1902. This swami, very articulate in English and his native tongue, still remains an inspiration to young Hindus. In 1888, Vivekananda left his monastery to lead a Hindu religious life of a wandering monk, without fixed abode and without ties. His sole possessions were a kamandalu (water pot), staff and his two favourite books—Bhagavad Gita and The Imitation of Christ. He attended the Parliament of Religions on September 11, 1893, at the Art Institute of Chicago. On this day Vivekananda gave his first address representing India and Hinduism.
He quoted two illustrative passages to his audience from the Bhagavad Gita: “As the different streams having their sources in different places all mingle their water in the sea, so, O Lord, the different paths which men take, through different tendencies, various though they appear, crooked or straight, all lead to Thee!” And: “Whosoever comes to Me, through whatsoever form, I reach him; all men are struggling through paths that in the end lead to Me.” Dr Barrows, the president of the Parliament said” “India, the mother of religions, was represented by Swami Vive-kananda, the orange-monk who exercised the most wonderful influence over his auditors. He attracted widespread attention in the press, which dubbed him as the ‘cyclonic monk from India.’”
A New York critique said: “He is an orator by divine right, and his strong, intelligent face in its picturesque setting of yellow and orange was hardly less interesting than those earnest words.” The New York Herald wrote: “Vivekananda is undoubtedly the greatest figure in the Parliament of Religions. Vivekananda’s other quotes:
• My child, what I want is muscles of iron and nerves of steel, inside which dwells a mind of the same material as that of which the thunderbolt is made.
• Take up one idea. Make that one idea your life—think of it, dream of it, live on that idea. Let the brain, muscles, nerves, every part of your body, be full of that idea, and just leave every other idea alone. This is the way to success, and this is the way great spiritual giants are produced. Others are mere talking machines.
• He is an atheist who does not believe in himself. The old religions said that he was an atheist who did not believe in God. The new religion says that he is an atheist who does not believe in himself.
• The history of the world is the history of a few men who had faith in themselves. That faith calls the divinity within. You can do anything. You fail only when you do strive sufficiently to manifest infinite power. As soon as a man or a nation loses faith, death comes.
• Faith, faith, faith in ourselves, faith, faith in God, this is the secret of greatness. If you have faith in all the three hundred and thirty millions of your mythological Gods, and in all the Gods which foreigners have now and again introduced into your midst, and still have no faith in yourselves, there is no salvation for you.
• Never think there is anything impossible for the soul. It is greatest hearsay to think so. If there is sin, this is the only sin—to say that you are weak, or others are weak.
• Be free, hope for nothing from anyone, I am sure, if you look back upon your lives, you will find that you were always trying to get help from others, which never came. All the help that has come was from within yourselves.
• Never say “No,” never say, “I cannot,” for you are infinite. Even time and space are as nothing compared with your nature. You can do anything and everything, you are almighty.
• Ye are the children of God, the sharers of immortal bliss, holy and perfect beings. Ye divinities on Earth—sinners. It is a sin to call a man so; it is a standing libel on human nature. Come up, O lions, and shake off the delusion that you are sheep; you are souls immortal, spirits free blest and eternal.
• Never mind struggles, the mistakes. I never heard a cow tell a lie, but it is only a cow—never a man. So never mind these failures, these little backslidings; hold the ideal a thousand times; and if you fail a thousand times make the attempt once more.
• The remedy for weakness is not brooding over weakness, but thinking of strength. Teach men of strength that is already within them.
• Be strong, my young friends, that is my advice to you. You will be nearer to Heaven through football than through study for the Gita. These are bold worlds, but I have to say them, for I love you. I know where the shoe pinches. I have gained a little experience. You will understand the Gita better with you biceps, your muscles, a little stronger.
• Satnarayan Maharaj is the secretary general of the Sanatan Dharma Maha Sabha
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