Today is the 150th birth anniversary of Swami Vivekananda. It is being celebrated on a grand scale all over the country. The Government has now become a key sponsor of these celebrations. Suddenly the whole country is talking about Swami Vivekananda. News magazines are devoting special issues to him. The streets are filled with posters of him. It is indeed heartening to see this.
But amidst all this visible signs of celebrating his anniversary, I am also concerned and anxious. Concerned that all this adulation will only end up in deification of Swami Vivekananda. Swamiji kept insisting that he not be made into a ‘God’ and that one needed to test him and his teachings in the crucible called life. He wanted us to dedicate our lives in the service of others not for our own narrow ends but for the larger welfare of humanity itself. He wanted people to accept what he said and did, only after our own experiments of his teaching were validated by our experiences. Unfortunately, the Nation seems to have missed this point. There seems to be a mad rush into latching on to the bandwagon and brand called ‘Vivekananda’ instead of trying to live his message. What the country needs is a dedicated band of young men and women who will set aside their own narrow selfish needs and think of his philosophy of raising the masses. We need to deconstruct his life and message and reconstruct it in the vision of National Reconstruction. The best way to remember him and his message would be to apply his pragmatic teachings in solving the problems facing India.
Let us not belittle Swamiji by a mere a show of our love and admiration for him. Let us instead join hands in becoming his ‘handful of young men and women’ in reclaiming our glorious past as we shape our country’s future.