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Exploring the enduring legacy of Swami Vivekananda

Exploring the enduring legacy of Swami Vivekananda

As the citizens of the world revive the insightful teachings of Swami Vivekananda on his birth anniversary this month, the Nehru Centre London hosted an enriching dialogue as a tribute to the “Maker of modern India”.

Swami Viveknanda was born on 12 January 1863 and it is marked as National Youth Day or Yuva Diwas in India. The theme for National Youth Day 2022 was “It's all in the mind”, a key teaching of Swami Vivekananda, considered a personification of the concept of East meets West.

Chevening Scholar Dr Hindol Sengupta and Minister-in-Charge at the Ramakrishna Vedanta Centre in Buckinghamshire Swami Sarvasthananda took to the floor to unpick the ideals which are even more relevant now than ever before.

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Upon his arrival in the UK to revolutionise India and her portrayal and to present the West with Yoga and the Vedanta philosophy, Vivekananda believed that his universal thoughts would resonate in the city of London. Dedicatedly preaching the much-needed concept of “Unity in Diversity”, his understanding of it began at the spiritual level.

Sengupta reflected that “despite coming from a colonised country, Vivekananda’s mind was uniquely open”.

Swami Sarvasthananda quotes the Hindu Monk: “The basis of all systems, social or political, rests upon the goodness of men. No nation is great or good because the parliament enacts laws. Spirituality goes to the root of the matter. Teach the men to be conscious of the divinity that lies within.”

His take on the current crisis of climate change would be to “respect pakruti (nature) by collaborating with it”, shared Sarvasthananda.

He added: “Unless the selfishness or greed from the human heart is not eliminated, we will not be united with animal and plant kingdom.”

As a staunch disciple of Sri Ramakrishna, Vivekananda recognised his mission of women’s empowerment. “True empowerment is incomplete without the spiritual empowerment of women.” His keenness led to elevating gender equality in atman or the soul only to inspire Indian women like Anasuya Sarabhai, pioneer of Indian women’s labour movement, and Ela Bhatt, Founder of Self-Employed Women’s Association (SEWA).

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When Calcutta was facing the worst form of plague in 1898, in his manifesto Vivekananda guided the sufferers by inculcating a sense of fearlessness: “Follow the right medical advice so that the plague could be controlled rather than panicking.”

The over-arching takeaway on his birth anniversary: “They alone live who live for others.”

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