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20 January 2008

Swami Vivekananda

It has been a slight blog break. Just a little bit of this and a little bit of that, but as you can see, my blog is updated today.

This is an old article I had written once, with the title ' The original role model'. Last week I thought I must post it here too. After all, I did start the 'personalities' label on my blog with the thought of highlighting people who matter.

On January 12, it was the birth anniversary of an Indian, Swami Vivekananda of whom Romain Rolland, (French winner of the Nobel prize in literature, 1915) said,"His words are great music. Phrases in the style of Beethoven's, stirring rhythms like the march of Handel's choruses. I cannot touch these sayings of his, scattered as they are through the pages of books, at thirty years distance, without receiving a thrill through my body like an electric shock. And what shocks, what transports must have been produced in burning words when they issues from the lips of the hero!"

On the topic of faith, Swami Vivekananda said: "First of all, our young men must be strong. You will be nearer to heaven through football than through the study of the Gita. You will understand the Gita better with your biceps, your muscles a little stronger. You will understand the mighty genius and the mighty strength of Krishna better with a little strong blood in you. You will understand the glory of the Upanishads and the glory of the Atman, when your body stands firm upon your feet, and you feel yourselves to be men."

On unselfishness, he urged,"First bread, then religion...I do not believe in a religion which cannot wipe the widows tears or bring a piece of bread to the orphans mouth."

About India, he said,"I consider it that the great national sin is the neglect of the masses, and that is one of the causes of our downfall. No amount of politics would be of any avail until the masses in India once more are well educated, well fed and well cared for."

Gandhiji said of him, "After having gone through his works, the love I had for my country became a thousand fold."

A highlight of the life of Swami Vivekananda's 39 years (1863-1902) is of course, his historic Chicago address of 1893, when he represented Hinduism at the Parliament of Religions. His complete works comprise 9 volumes. And when I visit the modern, colourful and trendy book stores I do wonder why I find hardly any book by or on this giant personality.

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