Of all the spiritual seers in the history of humanity Swami Vivekananda is unique. His was a mission set in a condition almost utterly negative all around. India was colonized by the British. Colonialism was seen as not just a political conquest but also as a socio-economic conquest and more importantly as a spiritual conquest of India by the West. The Western Imperialism justified and positioned itself as a civilizing mission of the dark-skinned pagan ‘Hindoos’. On the other side India was suffering from the internal problems caused by social stagnation. Many social evils had crept into the age old society and culture. The downtrodden people were ruthlessly exploited and women were suppressed. Superstitions flourished in that fertile ground of social injustice. Sectarian fanaticism also divided the Hindu society. Most of the educated Hindus accepted the Western propaganda that there is nothing of worth in Indian culture and spirituality. They surrendered their mind and soul to the British worldview – in social, economic and spiritual spheres. Conversion was rampant and Hindus often remained unconcerned about the decline of their society and degradation of their religion and culture. It was in such a situation that Swami Vivekananda arrived with his mission of awakening Indians to the real eternal India.
When that unknown wondering monk from the colonized nation and demonized culture stood up and addressed the people of the then most prosperous of the Western nations, United States, as ‘Sisters and Brothers’ he virtually declared the proclamation of universal brotherhood. From that blessed moment of September 11, 1893 to his Mahasamadhi on 4th July 1902 –not even a decade- Swami Vivekananda transformed the history of humanity, as none did ever before. He not only made India arise from the forceful sleep imposed on her by the imperial powers but he also made the world listen to the authentic spiritual voice of India.
Swami Vivekananda dialogued with the best minds of the global humanity as an equal. He seeded the cream of global humanity with new concepts and visions. He showed an Indic way of viewing humanity, nature, divinity and the cosmos. His insightful vision into subjects as varied as cosmology and sociology reveals an astonishing genius rooted in Indian spirituality. In his interaction with the famous physicist Tesla, Swamiji forged Sankhya and Vedanta into epistemological tools for the exploration of future physics. The impact of his interaction with biologists at Paris Science Fair is yet to be studied in its full dimension. But we do know that influential system thinkers like Peter Kropotkin, Patrick Geddes and Vladmir Vernadsky, whose works are today considered as the basis of holistic scientific framework, were influenced by the words and writings of Swami Vivekananda. Surely it was the phenomenon of Swami Vivekananda that also made Acharya Jagadish Chandra Bose declare the truth of Advaita in that undefined border realm that organically connects the physical with the physiological. It should be remembered that the creative synthesis of science and spirituality that Swami Vivekananda so naturally initiated, is something about which even today the West has not come to terms with.
…Take one of the most material sciences, as chemistry or physics, astronomy or biology — study it, push the study forward and forward, and the gross forms will begin to melt and become finer and finer, until they come to a point where you are bound to make a tremendous leap from these material things into the immaterial. The gross melts into the fine, physics into metaphysics, in every department of knowledge.
The fact these words were uttered by Swami Vivekananda decades before double-slit experiment and Schrodinger’s cat, shows how rooted in Indic spiritual philosophy Swami Vivekananda was able to foresee the way the physical sciences would evolve.
In India Swami Vivekananda inspired millions of Indians to realize the depth of their roots and the heights of their civilizational growth. He showed India that the genius of her spirituality fulfills an urgent need of the ailing humanity. It is not for herself but for entire humanity that India has to arise as a vibrant nation. For this he pointed out that the resources have to come from within. India’s ascent in the world history has to be achieved not through brute force and vanquishing of others as in the case of European nations. It has to be achieved through the processes of peace and benediction which come not from a debasing self-negation but from a majestic inner strength that bases itself on the Self.
The Ganga of Vedanta was then imprisoned in the lofty towers of the worldly aristocracy wearing the garb of spirituality. It was more an interesting pastime of wordplay for the high born. But Swami Vivekananda was the Baghiratha who made that life-giving Ganga descent into the valley of common people. The Vedic wisdom was hidden by the Asuric forces of social stagnation under the chaotic waters of dead ritualism and inhuman casteism and as a divine Avatar Swami Vivekananda brought that wisdom before the light of all humanity. Vedanta is the need of the hour Swamiji said not just for the consumerist expansionist diseases of the west but also for the downtrodden masses of India as the spiritual basis of emancipation. He thundered:
This is the dictate of Indian philosophy. This oneness is the rationale of all ethics and all spirituality. Europe wants it today just as much as our downtrodden masses do, and this great principle is even now unconsciously forming the basis of all the latest political and social aspirations that are coming up in England, in Germany, in France, and in America. And mark it, my friends, that in and through all the literature voicing man’s struggle towards freedom, towards universal freedom, again and again you find the Indian Vedantic ideals coming out prominently.
This then is the message of Swami Vivekananda – freedom from all fetters for all humanity and creative synthesis of all knowledge towards the Universal Oneness. By starting from the neglected quarters of Indian villages to the people suffering at the base of the pyramidal structures of the West the liberating nectar of Vedanta has to be taken so that the planet can live as one family.