In making of modern India the names which appeared prominently are not only the nationalist leaders like Mahatma Gandhi, Pt. Jawaharlal Nehru, Sardar Ballabh Bhai Patel, Maulana Abul Kalam Azad, contributed greatly to India’s struggle for freedom against the mighty British, but large number of spiritual leaders, social reformer and thinkers also galvanized India with their spiritual, social and political thoughts. These spiritual leaders, social reformer and thinkers included some personalities like Raja Ram Mohan Roy, Swami Dayanand, Ram Krishna Pramhansa, Aurobindo Ghosh and the very dynamic personality Swami Vivekananda.
Swami Vivekananda emerged as the icon of youth and young India, was striving hard to stand up its feet and face the mighty British Empire which has exploited the country to its fullest. Vivekananda, a philosopher, had emerged as a vocal exponent of Indian philosophy. He had burning zeal in his heart and mind to do something for India, under the subjugation of the British Rule. He wanted Indians to understand what India holds as the greatest civilization of the world and wanted to show that India could emerged as a leader in all spheres of life, if its youth could understand their potentialities and work for relieving the mother country from the bondage of slavery to the British Empire. According to him the future of India depended upon the youth of country and their energy and he always favoured strong and energetic youth. It is visualize in one incident when Vivekananda was surrounded by football playing youth who wanted that Vivekananda teach them some lesson of philosophy, Vivekananda replied them go and play, India need strong youth like you.
Swami Vivekananda or Narendranath Dutta, was belong to north Calcutta (Kolkata) and born in an upper middle class of Kayastha family. Narendranath’s father was an Attorney at the Calcutta High Court. Swami Vivekananda, (Narendranath), was admitted in Presidency College and after one year in the General Assemblies Institution (nowadays called Scottish Church College) from where he passed the Final Arts and Bachelor in Arts examinations in 1881 and 1884 respectively. After graduation he started studying law from the Metropolitan Institution (now Vidya Sagar College) but did not appear in the final examinations. During student-life, main stream of Narendranath’s energy was diverted through the channel of searching for God- the Absolute Truth. He used to practice continence (self- restraint) and concentration of mind as prescribed by Indian Seers, and studied voraciously for an intellectual understanding of the problem like the Western philosophers. Swami Vivekananda had delivered hundreds of lectures during his four and a half month work on the pacific coast. A young woman, Ida Ansell —had attended Swami’s lectures, taken shorthand notes of these lectures, and later incorporated in the complete works of Swami Vivekananda in 1963.
Sense of patriotism is evident from the entire Swami’s writings. His dream was- to restore India to the glory of its past days; to achieve this, he exhorted the youth to dedicate themselves selflessly to the service of their country, to do away with disagreements and come together on the basis of a common spiritual heritage for a great cause that was “the freedom of India from alien yoke”. The young revolutionaries of Bengal were inspired by his teachings and one of his disciples, Sister Nivedita (Originally, Margaret Noble), later served on the executive committee of the Revolutionary Society. Dr. R.C. Majumdar and R.G. Pradhan rightly said that, ‘the nascent nationalism of India received a great momentum from the life and activities of Swami Vivekananda”. He “might be called the father of modern Indian Nationalism: he largely created it and also embodied in his own life its highest and noblest elements.”
Swami Vivekananda wanted the spread of education to the masses, both men and women, but not at the cost of Indian ideals. He emphasized on technical education in one side and on learning Sanskrit on the other side. He had focused on the integrity of India. Regarding social customs he wanted the combination of all healthy customs of the East and the West. He wanted the caste-system to be based on qualities; he said, “The modern system (based on heredity) is a barrier to Indian progress.” Therefore, he never supported the custom of untouchability. He felt that a school of Indian historian is needed “to strike out an independent path of historical research for ourselves with scientific accuracy and for the revival of Indian art”. His idea is based on universality. He loved India because he thought that India alone has the potentiality to bring about a synthesis of the East and West — spirituality and material progress — and inspire other nations to do so. He said, if India fails to do this, the whole world “will reign the duality of lust and luxury..”
Thus, Swami Vivekananda’s idea of nationalism rest on four solid rocks: 1. the awakening of the masses that form the bases of the nation; 2. development of physical and moral strength; 3. unity based on common spiritual ideas; 4. Consciousness and pride in the ancient glory and greatness of
India. His ideal of reform was
based on improving the condition of woman; overhauling the education system
abolishing caste system, distinctions. He offered a synthesis of old and new
ideas regarding India’s progress and its march towards future.
1. The Prophet of Modern India: A Biography of Swami Vivekananda by Gautam Ghosh, New Delhi, 2003.
2. Dictionary of National Biography, Vol. IV, (S-Z) by Dr. S.P. Sen, Calcutta, 1974.
3. Swami Vivekananda: A Historical Review by R.C. Majumdar, Calcutta, 1965.
4. Swami Vivekananda: Patriot prophet Bhupendranath Dutta, Calcutta, 1954.
5. History of the Freedom Movement in India, Vol. I by R.C Majumdar, Calcutta, 1967.
6. Swami Vivekananda (Narayani Gupta ed.), by Amiya Sen, New Delhi, 2003
7. Indispensable Vivekananda by Amiya Sen, Orient Blackswan, 2006