Swami Vivekananda - India's Youth Icon

Florine Roche
Daijiworld Media Network - Mangalore

Mangalore, Jan 12: Being a youth icon of India Swami Vivekananda’s birthday on January 12, every year is celebrated as National Youth Day in our country. It is a fitting tribute to this great spiritual personality who believed in our youth power and inspired Indian youth to improve themselves and the country as a whole. To commemorate his contribution in stirring Indian youth Government of India declared Birthday of Swami Vivekananda on January 12 every year as National Youth Day in 1984. His name is associated with spirituality, modernity and humanity and it is widely accepted that his life and work would continue to enthuse generations of youth in our country.

January 12, 2013 marks the 150th birth anniversary of this patriotic saint and greatest spiritual leaders of India. His birth anniversary is celebrated in India and across the globe with great fanfare befitting his stature focusing on spreading humanitarian work. In his short life of 39 years, Vivekananda had created a flutter at national and global scenario and that is why a western admirer had even called him ‘young in years but eternal in wisdom’.

While we accept that he is our youth icon a question often arises whether Vivekananda is relevant today even after 110 years of his death? It is interesting and debatable for the simple reason that Swami Vivekananda is not identified with any particular religion and had much broader and secular views about various religions. However it cannot be denied that Vivekananda is widely credited for introducing Vedantha to the western world. He is also attributed for reviving and redefining certain aspects of Hindu religion. But his contributions had a broad specter as far as our country is concerned. The essence of his teachings was love, humanity, compassion, harmony of religions, universal solidarity and human being as the highest manifestation of spiritual consciousness.

Relevance of his Teachings

I believe that Swami Vivekananda’s teachings are relevant for centuries to come because it was Vivekananda who had cited some of the causes of our downfall. He had said neglecting the masses is our great national sin neglecting of our women folks as another great sin. Considering some of the developments of the recent past I must say this holds good even today. Vivekananda had objected to mass oppression in the name of religion, stressed on the importance of education, had great faith in the younger generation and had said that lack of unity among Indians was also one of the causes of our downfall. He taught Indians how to love and respect our country and stressed on the importance of national integration and it is for this reason Vivekananda is regarded as a fiery patriot. Vinobha Bhave, Indian non-violence activist had rightly said “Vivekananda not only made us conscious of our strength, he also pointed out our defects and drawbacks”.

For the youth this country Swami Vivekananda is a role model, an icon, an embodiment of youth, dynamism and vibrancy. He ignited young minds saying “my faith is in the younger generation, the modern generation, out of them will come my workers. They will work out the whole problem like lions”.

Vivekananda’s teachings are particularly relevant today at a time when divisive forces are working overtime to weaken our country. Let us hope his philosophy and the ideals which he lived continue to inspire our younger generation. India’s youth has the capacity to make Swami Vivekananda’s third prediction of ‘India rising to greater heights of prosperity and power’, becoming a reality.

Vivekananda is the rejuvenator of Indian though in modern times and is rightly called as the modern prophet of India.

Mangalore Chapter of Ramakrishna Math and Ramakrishna Mission

The entire world is gearing up to celebrate 150th birth anniversary of Swami Vivekananda. Needless to say the Mangalore chapter of Ramakrishna Math and Ramakrishna Mission is buzzing with innumerable activities in preparation of this great event. The mutt in association with Karnataka State Youth Services and Sports Department has chalked out a week-long programme to commemorate this event starting from January 11, 2013.

The week long celebrations consists of lectures, discussions, seminars, discourses, cultural programmes and youth convention to mark the great event, says Swami Jithakamananda, President of Ramakrishna Mutt who is also the Secretary of the Ramakrishna Mission. The 7 day programmes identified with titles like “Viveka Chethana”, “Viveka Sanchalana”, “Viveka Vandana”, “Viveka Namana” , “Viveka Chinthana”, “Viveka Jagarana” and “Viveka Manthana”.

On 12th a huge jatha and state level youth convention is organized in which youth from different parts of the state are expected to participate. The procession will begin from Nehru Maidan at 8.00 am and will reach Ramakrishna Math crossing through Corporation Bank Head Office and the railway gate near Srinivas College in Pandeshwar.

Mangalore chapter of Ramakrishna Math was established in 1947 in the northern part of Mangalore. It was in 1951 it was shifted to the present premises on Mangaladevi Road in a sprawling 7 acre land. The bungalow and the Balakashram (hostel for boys) at the same premises was gifted to the Math by Sowkar late M Venkatesh Pai, the then Hon Secretary of Hindu Seva Sangha. The Math runs the Balakashram and at present houses about 70 students from rural and marginalized sections of the society. Boys from 8th class onwards can join the hostel at Math.

The Math also undertake various activities such as youth welfare, student welfare, providing education, value education and spiritual and cultural education. There are worship and bjajans every day, weekly classes, spiritual retreats and occasional lectures also form part of the various activities at the Math.

Swami Jithakamananda says the Math runs entirely on public contributions and many devotees volunteer their services as and when need arises. The Math also provides tuition classes to students of 8th to 10th class free of cost. To commemorate the 150th birth anniversary of Swami Vivekananda this programme has been named as “Gadadhar Abnhyudhaya Prakalpa”. “About 150 students from nearby areas are taking benefit of this programme”, says Swami Jithakamanand.

There are 7 Swamis at the Math and about and an equal number of novices who carry out the work of the Math. There are many devotees who volunteer to provide free services at the Math to carry out the various activities.

The Math has Swami Vivekananda Auditorum where regular discourses and spiritual retreats are held for the devotees. The Matha also has a Book Sales Section which exhibits the Vedantha literature. There is also Sharada Library, which boasts of a collection of more than 7000 books on religion, philosophy, yoga, history, life and teaching of saints.

The Math also has a wing of women devotees who volunteer to provide service in conducting various activities of the Math.

Swami Jithakamananda says “the main motto of the Math is to provide service just like Swami Vivekananda had dedicated his life to raise the masses of our country. It was Swami Vivekananda who told that the change can be brought by giving education to the common masses. It was Vivekananda who told this can be done through the youth”.

The selfless work carried out by the Swamis and devotees of Ramakrishna Mutt and Ramakrishna Mission for the betterment of humanity is indeed praiseworthy.