Pertinence of Vivekananda’s Apotheosis in Indian Social Diaspora
Dr. Ravindra Kumar - 8/29/2007
Rabindra Nath Tagore once wrote that “he who wants to understand Indian society must read Vivekananda for he awakens in the younger generation the devotion and love for their motherland, their pride in its past and hope for its illuminating future”. William Jones, the Harvard philosopher called the Swami as the “paragon of Vedantists”. Max Muller and Paul Deussen, the famous orientalists of the nineteenth century, held him in genuine respect and affection. Romain Rolland writes Swami’s words “are of great music, phrases in the style of Beethoven, stirring rhythms like the march of Handal choruses”.
The intuitive mind of Vivekananda has been inspired by the juxtapose thought and theism of various pantheists and epistemologists.
- He was first moved by reading John Stuarts Mills “Essays on Religion”, which caused his optimistic surface theism, gleaned in fashionable Brahmo Samajist circles to crumble away. The face of evil in nature appeared to him and he revolted against it.
- Afterwards he tried to adopt the theories of Spencer with whom he had corresponded, went in vein and
- then for sometimes the soul of Vivekananda bathed in the aerial waves of Shelley’s pantheism.
- But the deepest influence upon his thought is obviously of ancient Hindu philosophy – especially of Vedanta. As a Vedantist his main body of thought is derived from the Hindu scriptures Upanishads and Vedanta. His doctrine of Maya is derived from this source.
- It is believed that he was also influenced by Buddhist philosophy because the three ideas of Buddhist thought like mass liberation, worth of humanitarian and altruistic work, Samyak Karmanta and Ajiva have inspired Vivekananda’s philosophy to a great deal.
- He was also quite impressed by the strength of character; forgive the oppressor and the ideal of service and love of the Christianity thought.
- He also influenced by the indeterminate nature of reality, the quality of fearlessness and selfless work of Swami Dayananda Saraswati’s thought.
- But the profoundest influence, in the light of which every other influence was remodelled and shaped, was that of his teacher Swami Ramakrishna Paramahamsa. Swami Nikhilananda who has written a biography on Vivekananda speaking about this says “it was his duality of God head, the unity of existence, the universality or harmony of all different regions”.
The philosophy of Vivekananda is idealistic in more senses than one. His metaphysical idealism believes that the reality is ultimately spiritual or ideal in character. So, he thought that the ultimate reality is essentially spiritual in character. His idealism is also monistic, because an idealistic philosophy that is strictly monistic becomes abstract and comes to assert that reality has to be indeterminate. He described absolute as Sat (existence), Cit (consciousness) and Ananda (bliss and love). That’s why he believes God is supremely real, is also object of our devotion and worship, so God is present everywhere and in everything. On doctrine of Maya he says is a simple statement of facts as they exists, that the every basis of our being is contradiction, that wherever there is good, there must also be evil and where ever there is evil, there must be some good, wherever there is life, death must follow as its shadow and every one who smiles will have to weep and vice-versa. Vivekananda’s doctrine of Maya is not like that of Sankara who believes it as a power that creates illusion but accordingly to Swamiji it is a fact about the nature of the world.
Vivekananda was a strong believer of the Law of karma where he feels that man normally performs his actions out of ignorance and man’s karma determines his nature and karma does not contradict man’s freedom. By his own good deeds man can win over his ignorance and suffering. He means freedom as a self-determination, which represents the essence of soul, and soul is not really in bondage, because due its simplicity the soul is immortal. According him the desire to win over death is also taken as a sign of our immortality and through yoga soul can realise immortality. Yoga he means, the path leading to the realisation is the path of discipline and union. We have lacked the path of discipline, that’s why he criticised our people for having lost touch with the rest of the world and become stagnant and mummified. He remarked that “the fact of our isolation from all countries of the world is the cause of our degeneration and its only remedy is to getting back into the current of the rest of the world. Dr. Ravindra Kumar is a universally renowned Gandhian scholar, Indologist and writer. He is the Former Vice-Chancellor of University of Meerut. globalpolitician.com