A question many have asked me for the last few years is ‘Is SVYM a religious organization’? The changing political landscape that thrives on religious polarization may lead people to ask this question, especially since we are named after Swami Vivekananda. This question has only one straightforward answer – No! We are not a religious organization. We neither talk religion nor are we into the world of proselytizing or preaching. Many of us individually may or may not be having different religious beliefs, but these are purely personal and outside the domain of organizational matters. How do we demonstrate that we are not religious in the way the world has now-a-days defined religion? As far as we are concerned, since our inception we have held onto the highest ideals promoted by Swami Vivekananda in his teachings – ideals of service and sacrifice. These are reflected in our values along with those that the Mahatma wanted us to practice – truth and non-violence. And the practice of these values is the only religion we have within SVYM.
Vivekananda believed that religion is an intensely personal matter. His only religion was to see ‘God in man’ and serve him unconditionally. That is the religion we practice in SVYM. We neither care nor bother about the ‘personal’ God that any of our employees, partners or program participants may subscribe to. All that matters to us is the question of how truthful we are to our values. We would like to see the oneness of man and not the narrow divisions that exist today. Being non-religious and inclusive means respecting every individual that we interact with, irrespective of their faiths, denominations, colour, social status, economic worth or caste. It is reflected in the fact that we have people of different backgrounds, religious beliefs and caste groups working in the organization and at all levels too. None of our programs tolerate any kind of discrimination and that is what makes us special. We cherish these ideals and would not compromise with them on any grounds. All our prayers are universal and multi-faith. And this is our way of respecting and embracing all these faiths, while each individual can hold to whatever he or she believes in and is comfortable with. We believe that this would be the best way of honoring the memory of a man, whose 150th birth anniversary the whole nation is celebrating this year. We are indeed proud to have our organization named after him. For it is his vision of not just ‘universal tolerance’ but ‘universal acceptance’ that guides our existence and every action that we undertake.
The photos and statues of Swami Vivekananda that we have in our campuses are to constantly remind us of these values and keep us ever mindful of what we are committed to. And we believe that the very way in which we live and conduct business is proof enough of our position.