Himalayan Heritage Foundation

Center for policy research on Himalayan Region

Swami Vivekananda’s Vision of Modern India

Dr. Mahesh Kaul gives a compact overview of the idea of modern India Swami Vivekananda had.

Written by: Dr. Mahesh Kaul || Posted in category: Saints || Dated: 2016-01-28

Swami Vivekananda.

The national spirit of the inhabitants has always emerged from the  cultural  spiritual core. This core has been the nucleus of this ancient  civilization.

What holds the nation together inspite of the invasions and  vandalisation from  outsiders and the colonizers? What has kept the land of Bharata alive  when every  external thrust was designed to subjugate the masses and crush the  nation in every  possible sphere?

Swami Vivekananda, the wandering monk who ignited the flame of Indian  nationalism  through the Universal religion of Vedanta, answered all these  questions and  chalked out the plan of action for the future of the Indian nation.

He provided  solutions to the problems of modern India in an introductory article  written for  the Bengali fortnightly Udbhodhana, which was published on 14th of  January, 1889 .

He wrote with pride that Of that ancient Indian race upon , which the rays of civilization  first dawned  deep thoughtfulness first revealed itself in full glory, there are  still found  hundreds of thousands of its children, born of its mind-the  inheritors of its  thoughts and sentiments -ready to claim them.”

Swami Vivekananda revealed the power of Indian thought that still  flows in the  soul and the mind of its people, acting as glue binding the Indian  nation with the  cohesive force of spiritualism. And he was not bothered whether it  flowed in the  veins of the nation in ‘a distinct or in some subtle way’. This flow  of Indian  thought, he credited to universal ancient inheritance.


Elaborating on the predominant power structure and the political  situation Swami  Vivekananda ponders over the inherent structure of the Indian  national life and  says: “Once in far remote antiquity, Indian philosophy, coming in  contact with  Greek energy, led to the rise of the Persian, The Roman, and other  great nations.

After the invasion of Alexander the Great, these two great waterfalls  colliding  with each other, deluged nearly half of the globe with spiritual  tides, such as  Christianity. Again, a similar commingling, resulting in the  improvement and  prosperity of Arabia, laid the foundation of the modern European  civilization. And  perhaps in our own day, such a time for the conjunction of these two  gigantic  forces has presented itself again. This time their centre is India”.

Further explaining the nature of the Indian consciousness and its  uniqueness, he  said “The air of India pre-eminently conduces to quietness, the  nature of the  Yavana is the constant ex-pression of power; profound meditation  characterizes the  one, the indomitable spirit of dexterous activity, the other; one’s  motto is  “renunciation”, the other’s “enjoyment”.

One’s whole energy is directed inwards, the other’s outwards; one’s  whole learning  consists of knowledge of the Self or the Subject, the other’s, in the  knowledge of  the not-self or the object (perishable creation); one loves Moksha  (spiritual  freedom), the other loves political independence; one is unmindful of  gaining  prosperity in this world, the other sets his whole heart on making a  heaven of  this world; one, aspiring after eternal bliss, is indifferent to all  the ephemeral  pleasures of this life, and the other doubting the existence of  eternal bliss, or  knowing it to be far away, directs his whole energy to the attainment  of earthly  pleasures as much as possible.” Swami Vivekananda’s analysis of the Indian existence, consciousness  and the  spiritual core enables one to understand the foundation of the Indian  nation. With  the conviction of the Vedantist he boldly asks to assimilate  spiritual calmness of  the practical yogis to hold firm the roots of Indian civilization  amid all  external turbulence, which is infact all illusion and not the  reality. The reality  being the inner sense of introspection of the Vedantist.

Reflecting on the wrong interpretations on the caste system in India,  he says have  great implications on the Indian national life in terms of religion  and politics.

He was quick to give his perspective for the future and well being of  modern  India. He said “What should we have is what we have not, perhaps what  our  forefathers even had not – that which the Yavanas had; that, impelled  by the life- vibration of which, is issuing forth in rapid succession from the  great dynamo

Europe, the electric flow of that tremendous power vivifying the  whole world. We  want that energy, that love of independence, that spirit of self  reliance , that  immovable fortitude, that dexterity in action , that bond of unity of  purpose ,  that thirst for improvement… , we want that expansive vision  infinitely projected  forward ;and we want -that intense spirit of activity(Rajas) which  will flow  through our every vein from head to toe.”

This was his immediate remedy to the degeneration being caused to the  national  life. But he thought beyond the present scenario. He was concerned  about the  future of modern India- its development in all spheres-religious,  social,  political and economic.

Swami Vivekananda said,”the quality of rajas  is apt to die  down as soon as it comes up ,like a fire of palm leave.The presence  of Sattva and  the Nitya or eternal reality is almost in a state of juxtaposition- Sattva is  nearly Nitya. Whereas the nation in which the quality of Rajas  predominates is not  so long lived , a nation with a preponderance of Sattva is immortal.  History is a  witness to this fact.”

To be specific about India he said, “In India, the quality of Rajas  is almost  absent; the same is the case with Sattva in the West. It is certain,  therefore,  that the real life of the Western world depends upon the influx, from  India, of  the current of Sattva or transcendentalism;and it is also certain  that unless we  empower and submerge our Tamas by the opposite tide of Rajas ,we  shall never gain  any worldly good or welfare in this life;and it is also equally  certain that we  shall meet many formidable obstacles in the path of realization of  those noble  aspirations and ideals connected with our after-life.”

To sum up, it is appropriate to quote from the Swami Vivekananda’s  poem ‘To the  Awakened India’, the wandering monk says “And tell the world-awake, arise, and dream no more! This is the land of dreams, where Karma Weaves unthreaded garlands with our thoughts Of flowers sweet or noxious, and none Has root or stem, being born in naught, which The softest breath of Truth drives back to Primal nothingness. Be bold, and face The truth! Be one with it! Let visions cease, Or, if you cannot, dream but truer dreams, Which are External Love and Service Free.”

Author is Chairman,Himalayan Heritage Foundation.He wtites on national security issues,culture,heritage,religion,philosophy,tourism, and Himalayan issues)

Keywords: Swami Vivekananda, Hindu philosophy, Hindu Saints, Swamiji's Idea on India

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