|| Aum Sri Ramakrishna Sharanam||
Aum Namo Narayanaya
The days leading up to the milestone 150th Birth Anniversary of world renowned and celebrated Swami Vivekananda lived true to its nature when the scorching African sun belted everything into a stunned retreat. The scathing heat could be heard as it cracked the ground and sucked out the life from plants, reducing them to an acarpous dust. Everything stood picture-still as even the wind dare not challenge the supremacy of the midday sun.
Sustained by the residue of energy that was not consumed by the unrelenting summer days, I went to bed on the eve of this auspicious day with much anticipation to observe and celebrate the life of a perfect soul, who even if Mother Saraswathi Herself sat for eternity to write His virtues would not be able to do so.
My journey to the deepest realms of sleep were interrupted in the early hours of the morning by melodious notes of rain drops as they wrote a symphony in honour of the universe's favourite son; the King amongst renunciates; saviour of the weak, poor and downtrodden; and inspirer of man to reach his full potential of divinity. This celestial sound strummed a resplendent feeling in my heart as I thought: “O gracious and merciful Swamiji - even as you occupy our universe subtly, you demonstrate such a vast sense of compassion for us, that you have come as the rain clouds taking the full brunt of the sun on your back so we may celebrate your day in comfort and joy.
If we have to put it in a crude manner, we can say that every hour of Swamiji's life was a dissipation of His life’s breath - which infused vigour, strength , knowledge and man-making ideas into society. This was His legacy: to work ceaselessly until every man raises himself to the realisation that he is one with God. His superb ability to distill the various intricate and high philosophies and confluence them into a practical Vedanta, made the gateway to liberation accessible to the illiterate, poor, and even the atheist.
As many might see the the 150th Birth Anniversary celebrations as a culmination point of various activities to showcase and highlight the life and teachings of a modern day saint who crystallised the ethos of Vedanta globally, I feel that this celebration merely pivots us on a fulcrum of introspection to clearly understand how we have been entranced in a sense of static piety.
Once again He whose eloquence in disseminating spiritual truths - our revered Swami Vimokshanandaji Maharaj - who has never even failed to intrigue the dust particles in the air, shared with us two important ideas on this auspicious celebration. The first being growth: like we all having started in kindergarten and eventually completing tertiary studies, it is vitally important that our character and spirituality also evolves to a higher level. The other very important theme was that we must strive from being a sympathy-based -society to an empathetic-society. How Swamiji shed tears and His heart bled for the pain and suffering of others, stems from the knowledge that everything in this universe is one and part of the supreme person being God. This understanding ignites the spiritual dynamism needed to put in motion the machinery of actions that will raise society and humanity from the clutches of low self esteem and weakness to walking with heads up knowing that they are kinsmen to Rama and Krishna.
The attraction to Swami Vivekananda's words and teachings stems not from Him cutting and pasting ideas from literature and scripture, but is derived from realisations that are couched in the bosom of life-changing experiences that moulded His character and mental constitutions from man to God-Man. Being born in a wealthy aristocratic family, circumstances found Him begging for food barefoot in the villages of India and feeling the devastating blows and punches that life could offer; He resolved to face life head-on with the armour of His Guru's grace. It is this palpable and tangible Vivekananda who lived and proved the capabilities and potential of the human birth is what inspires young men and women all over the world.
Real change in the world will come when: sympathy transforms to empathy; when the lawmakers not understand but feel the pain and suffering of the citizens; when the politicians not understand famine and hunger but feel the pangs of the starving - then a shift in the trends of the ardhamic order will be seen.
Swami Vimokshananda also mentioned that in the parlance of the Ramakrishna order, the affectionate term of Swamiji is assigned to Swami Vivekananda alone - and when people refer to them as Swamiji they feel rather embarrassed, as they are being compared to this great luminary and towering personality who shook the world.
In the same light we should all, irrespective of who our Ishta Devata or Guru is, evaluate our contributions towards taking their ideals to the world and making it practical and living embodiments of their work. We should not use the word devotee loosely but make a concerted effort to earn that title. In this 2013, let us resolve to become sincere and true ambassadors of our spiritual ideals. Let us become that rain- cloud that shelters the weak and infirm from the scorching heat of their previous karmas. Let us be the rain that quenches the thirst and hunger of the starving millions. Then alone our worship becomes practical.
I bow sincerely to my revered Swamiji and pray that He makes us worthy instruments in His mission to make man understand His true divine nature of being one with the universal truth Brahman.
With love and prayers always