Swami Vivekananda

From The SpiritWiki

Swami Vivekananda was an Avatar, Hindu monk, author, religious teacher, Hindu missionary to the Americas, and discipline of Ramakrishna.

Historical Avatars

Avatars > Jesus Christ, Kalki, Mahavrata, Muhammad, Rishabhanatha, Rumi, Saptarishis, Swami Vivekananda

Notes

Was an Hindu missionary to the west.[1] Lectured in the west to get money to published books to be given to the poor of India[2]

Wanted to accomplish "what Ramakrsna had called 'the work of Kali'"[3]

Wanted to "set in motion a machinery which will bring noble ideas to the door of everybody, and then let men and women settle their own fate. Let them know what our forefathers as well as other nations have thought on the most momentous questions of life. Let them see specially what others are doing now, and then decide. We are to put the chemicals together, the crystallization will be done by nature according to her laws. Work hard, be steady, and have faith in the Lord. Set to work, I am coming sooner or later. Keep the motto before you — "Elevation of the masses without injuring their religion""[4]

Was 'befriended by some wealthy Americans and by Harvard Professor John Henry Wright who was able to pull strings to that the svami could participate even though he was not the approved representative of any religious body."[5]

Spoke to the World's Parliament of Religions, Chicago, 11th Sept 1893. [6]

Critic of Christian hypocrisy. "Christians must always be ready for good criticism, and I hardly think that you will mind if I make a little criticism. You Christians, who are so fond of sending out missionaries to save the soul of the heathen — why do you not try to save their bodies from starvation? In India, during the terrible famines, thousands died from hunger, yet you Christians did nothing. You erect churches all through India, but the crying evil in the East is not religion — they have religion enough — but it is bread that the suffering millions of burning India cry out for with parched throats. They ask us for bread, but we give them stones. It is an insult to a starving people to offer them religion; it is an insult to a starving man to teach him metaphysics. In India a priest that preached for money would lose caste and be spat upon by the people. I came here to seek aid for my impoverished people, and I fully realised how difficult it was to get help for heathens from Christians in a Christian land."[7]

Pointed out the Buddha, like Christ, "The great glory of the Master lay in his wonderful sympathy for everybody, especially for the ignorant and the poor. Some of his disciples were Brahmins. When Buddha was teaching, Sanskrit was no more the spoken language in India. It was then only in the books of the learned. Some of Buddha's Brahmins disciples wanted to translate his teachings into Sanskrit, but he distinctly told them, "I am for the poor, for the people; let me speak in the tongue of the people." And so to this day the great bulk of his teachings are in the vernacular of that day in India.[8]

bodies in America. Critisized secrecy of western esoteric traditions.

All religions based on experience of God (Crist), certain truths (buddha), etc. [9]

Wanted to "set in motion a machinery which will bring noble ideas to the door of everybody" [10]

On the nature of human spirituality and religion, Swami says "Each soul is ... divine. The goal is to manifest this divinity within, BY controlling nature, external and internal. Do this either by work, or worship, or psychic control, or philosophy, by one, or more, or all of these and be free. This is the whole of religion. Doctrines, or dogmas, or rituals, or books, or temples, or forms, are but secondary details."[11]

On esotericism and mystical experience:

In Western countries it is thought to be mysticism. People who wanted to practise it were either burned or killed as witches and sorcerers, and in India, for various reasons, it fell into the hands of persons who destroyed 90 per cent, of the knowledge, and of that portion which remained tried to make a great secret. In modern times many so-called teachers have arisen worse than those of India, because the latter knew something while these modern exponents do not. Anything that is secret and mysterious in these systems...should be at once rejected....All mystery-mongering weakens the human brain... it is a striking fact, that the more modern the commentator, the greater the mistakes he makes. The more ancient the writer on it the more rational he is. Most of the modern writers talk of all sorts of mystery. Thus it fell into the hands of a few persons who made it a secret, instead of letting the full blaze of daylight and reason fall upon it, and they did so that they might have the powers to themselves.

In the first place there is no mystery in what I preach. What little I know I will tell you. So far as I can reason it out I will do so, but what I do not know I will simply tell you that it is what the books say. It is wrong to blindly believe. You must exercise your own reason and judgment you must practise, and see whether these things happen or not. Just as you would take up any other science of a material nature, exactly in the same manner you should take up this science for study. There is neither mystery nor danger in it. So far as it is true it ought to be preached in the public streets, in the broad daylight. Any attempt to mystify these things is productive of great danger.(Vivekananda, 1896, pp. 12–13)

On Gods in the Vedas: "I may be pardoned for using the word gods; the literal translation is "the bright ones"

On women:[12]

Swami Vivekanada provides some fascinating comments on the progressive and advanced status of women in India in the ancient Vedic world, prior to colonization. Turns out, they were advanced over the West which still struggles with a vile patriarchy.

"It is in the Aryan literature that we find women in ancient times taking the same share as men, and in no other literature of the world."

"This is the first glimpse of women's work in the Vedas. As we go on, we find them taking a greater share — even officiating as priests. There is not one passage throughout the whole mass of literature of the Vedas which can be construed even indirectly as signifying that woman could never be a priest. In fact, there are many examples of women officiating as priests.

Then we come to the last portion of these Vedas — which is really the religion of India — the concentrated wisdom of which has not been surpassed even in this century. There, too, we find women preeminent. A large portion of these books are words which have proceeded from the mouths of women. It is there — recorded with their names and teachings."

"In the Vedas we find this idea of marrying — the girls chose for themselves; so the boys. In the next stratum they are married by their parents, except in one caste."

"There is another peculiar conception of the Hindu. Those who have been studying with me are aware that the central conception of Hindu philosophy is of the Absolute; that is the background of the universe. This Absolute Being, of whom we can predicate nothing, has Its powers spoken of as She — that is, the real personal God in India is She. This Shakti of the Brahman is always in the feminine gender."

"Sita approached this sage and bowed down before her. The sage placed her hand on the head of Sita and said: "It is a great blessing to possess a beautiful body; you have that. It is a greater blessing to have a noble husband; you have that. It is the greatest blessing to be perfectly obedient to such a husband; you are that. You must be happy". Sita replied, "Mother, I am glad that God has given me a beautiful body and that I have so devoted a husband. But as to the third blessing, I do not know whether I obey him or he obeys me. One thing alone I remember, that when he took me by the hand before the sacrificial fire — whether it was a reflection of the fire or whether God himself made it appear to me — I found that I was his and he was mine. And since then, I have found that I am the complement of his life, and he of mine".

"We come now to Manu the great lawgiver. Now, in this book there is an elaborate description of how a child should be educated. We must remember that it was compulsory with the Aryans that a child be educated, whatever his caste. After describing how a child should be educated, Manu adds: "Along the same lines, the daughters are to be educated — exactly as the boys"

"Next, I will come to our old dramas. Whatever the books say, the dramas are the perfect representation of society as it then existed. In these, which were written from four hundred years before Christ onward, we find even universities full of both boys and girls. We would not [now] find Hindu women, as they have since become cut off from higher education.* But [at that time], they were everywhere pretty much the same as they are in this country — going out to the gardens and parks to take promenades. "

"In still later times, perhaps you will be astonished to know that a great English general had once to face a Hindu girl of sixteen. "

"Women in statesmanship, managing territories, governing countries, even making war, have proved themselves equal to men — if not superior. In India I have no doubt of that. Whenever they have had the opportunity, they have proved that they have as much ability as men, with this advantage — that they seldom degenerate. They keep to the moral standard, which is innate in their nature. And thus as governors and rulers of their state, they prove — at least in India — far superior to men. John Stuart Mill mentions this fact."

"Even at the present day, we see women in India managing vast estates with great ability. There were two ladies where I was born who were the proprietors of large estates and patronesses of learning and art and who managed these estates with their own brains and looked to every detail of the business."

Footnotes

  1. Vivekananda, Swami. Collected Works of Swami Vivekananda. Vol. 5. 9 vols., n.d. https://www.holybooks.com/complete-works-of-swami-vivekananda/
  2. Williams, George M. The Quest for Meaning of Svami Vivekananda. Chio, California: New Horizons Press, 1994.
  3. Williams, George M. The Quest for Meaning of Svami Vivekananda. Chio, California: New Horizons Press, 1994. p.55
  4. Vivekananda, Swami. Collected Works of Swami Vivekananda. Vol. 5. 9 vols. Advaita Ashrama, 2016. https://www.holybooks.com/complete-works-of-swami-vivekananda/.
  5. Williams, George M. The Quest for Meaning of Svami Vivekananda. Chio, California: New Horizons Press, 1994. p. 59
  6. Vivekananda, Swami. "Response to Welcome." Collected Works of Swami Vivekananda. Vol. 5. 9 vols. Advaita Ashrama, 2016. https://www.holybooks.com/complete-works-of-swami-vivekananda/.
  7. Vivekananda, Swami. "Religion not the Crying Need of India." Collected Works of Swami Vivekananda. Vol. 5. 9 vols. Advaita Ashrama, 2016. https://www.holybooks.com/wp-content/uploads/SWAMI-VIVEKANANDA-COMPLETE-WORKS-Vol-1.pdf
  8. Vivekananda, Swami. "Religion not the Crying Need of India." Collected Works of Swami Vivekananda. Vol. 5. 9 vols. Advaita Ashrama, 2016.https://www.holybooks.com/wp-content/uploads/SWAMI-VIVEKANANDA-COMPLETE-WORKS-Vol-1.pdf.
  9. Vivekananda, Swami. Yoga Philosophy: Lectures Delivered in New York, Winter of 1895-6. New York: Longmans, Green, and CO, 1896. p. 2 https://ia600303.us.archive.org/25/items/yogaphilosophyle00viverich/yogaphilosophyle00viverich_bw.pdf <nowiki>
  10. Williams, George M. The Quest for Meaning of Svami Vivekananda. Chio, California: New Horizons Press, 1994
  11. Vivekananda, Swami. Yoga Philosophy: Lectures Delivered in New York, Winter of 1895-6. New York: Longmans, Green, and CO, 1896. https://ia600303.us.archive.org/25/items/yogaphilosophyle00viverich/yogaphilosophyle00viverich_bw.pdf. Opening Quote
  12. Allthe following quotes from Vivekananda, Swami. “The Women of India.” Collected Works of Swami Vivekananda. Vol. 9. 9 vols. Advaita Ashrama, 2016. https://www.holybooks.com/wp-content/uploads/SWAMI-VIVEKANANDA-COMPLETE-WORKS-Vol-9.pdf
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