|| Aum Sri Ramakrishna Sharanam||
|Happy Republic Day- Pic Google Images|
||Aum Namo Narayanaya||
As the curtains closed on the official celebrations of the 150th birth anniversary of Swami Vivekananda in South Africa yesterday evening I started to feel a little vacuum creep into my heart. A good three years that was filled with so much of inspirational work in honour of a saint that made an impact on human consciousness to last this entire kalpa. The paucity of this vacuum was dissipated immediately when Swami Saradaprabhananda in his key note address made it very clear that this closing function was in no way sounding the death knell on taking Swamijis message to the nation. His message and ideas need to be an ongoing stimulus that encourages our intellect and being to live the divinity that we are.
Today is a very significant day for Indians, I take this opportunity of wishing all our Indian brothers and sisters a Happy Republic Day. In India, Republic Day honours the date on which the Constitution of India came into force on 26 January 1950 replacing the Government of India Act (1935) as the governing document of India.The Constitution was passed by the Constituent Assembly of India on 26 November 1949 but was adopted on 26 January 1950 with a democratic government system, completing the country's transition toward becoming an independent republic. 26 January was selected for this purpose because it was this day in 1930 when the Declaration of Indian Independence (Purna Swaraj) was proclaimed.
It would be sacrilege to speak of the independence and freedom of India without factoring the contribution of Swamiji towards the national ideal.
India and South Africa are umbilical linked by the Indian Ocean. Besides sharing this natural marvel, our nations enjoy cordial governmental, cultural and trade relations. Our bonds are not fortified by merely the good that we share, but also by our shared history of tyranny, pain, oppression and suffering brought on by colonialism. Colonial rule did more than just plunder the resources; it went right down to the core of the human psyche, stripping the people of their dignity and self esteem. This mastermind program made people believe and act like second class citizens in their own country.
The ancient indigenous value systems and traditions which formed the bedrock of a thriving and strong civilization was besmirched and flooded with western ideals which scarcely scratched even the surface in understanding the cosmos and purpose of existence. With these atrocities unfolding in both our lands, there was a need for political emancipation and our histories share the great Mahatma Gandhi who played an integral part in both our freedom struggles. But political freedom alone was not enough to ensure the meteoric rise of our nations. So long as the mind and psyche remain bludgeoned by the legacy of colonial rule the nation was never to rise from the ashes of that devastation.
It was hope and inspiration that came in the form of Swami Vivekananda, the patriot saint of India, who having travelled the length and breadth of India experiencing firsthand the devastation of oppression. He sat at the tip of India (Kanya Kumari) in meditation for three days and nights and in him was lit the fire of patriotism that would set India ablaze with new life and energy to Arise and Awake to the new prosperous future that awaited her. Today as the world reflects on the 150th birth anniversary of Swami Vivekananda, his insight, message and vision is appreciated......, as the fruits of his seeds planted over a century ago bears fruit in a rising awakening India.
As I pen this blog and speak of our shared history and look to our present day South Africa, now more than ever we need to share the rich the legacy of Swami Vivekananda in setting our own path for prosperity and growth. Three things that standout out as the core transformation concepts adopted by Swamiji are the nature of the self, education and the condition of woman.
In lifting the despondency and low esteem that set upon the masses, Swamiji shook and vibrated the nation with his clarion call of Arise and Awake- Stop not until the goal is reached. Bringing the Upanishads to life by his actions he made them understand they were not weak, and that each person was potentially divine and everything is possible for the atman or soul. This raised the self esteem and confidence of the people. Having spent many years in America, he studied carefully how organised and successful the westerners were. He attributed this to their education and motivated his countrymen to educate themselves , not merely with secular education, but character building man making education which re-introduced the ancient value systems into the social fabric.
He understood that the strength of a nation was intrinsically linked to the state of woman. Where woman are disrespected that place was sure to collapse. Swamiji also raised the consciousness of woman, pleaded for their education and development and asked that they be given the space to find their own solutions for their challenges. South Africa 20 years into our freedom has made great progress in many aspects but needs to find its feet on some of the issues raised by Swamiji.
Our youth and citizens need to develop a burning patriotism for our country and take an active approach in our growth and development. Swamiji once replied to a question whilst in America after some time what he felt of India, to which he replied, the very soil of India is now holy to me. Collectively our skills should be used for the progress of our country. The importance of education in eradicating poverty is more evident now as more and more people are employed within the formal economy. There is however a dearth of value based education that Swamiji highlighted, clearly visible by the number of fraud, sexual harassment cases in our courts today. Lots more needs to be done in raising the divine consciousness of many so that they become more loving, compassionate and tolerant showing respect towards one another. By simply understanding that we are all potentially divine beings and that at a fundamental level we are one, there will be a marked reduction in crime, abuse and discrimination of woman and children, fraud and corruption. The ideals of our freedom charter and constitution can be realised. A free, non racial, non sexist country, where everyone can live in peace and harmony is within our grasps. A prosperous South Africa is on the horizon, we need to simply understand our true nature, manifest it and live by it. Weaving Swami Vivekananda’s life giving message into our daily activities will vaccinate us against weakness that polarizes our path for progress and prosperity.
May he eternally inspire and guide usYours affectionately