In 1897, exactly 50 years before independence, Swami Vivekananda had predicted that "India would be free in the next 50 years in unforeseen circumstances". This prophecy was made at a time when the idea of an independent India never even crossed the minds of Indians. Far from fighting for freedom, many Indians were even convinced that British rule was a symbol of justice, peace and prosperity. Many of them even thought it was a blessing. No one attached any importance to Swamiji's words. Today, even after 60 years of Independence, Swamiji's teachings are as relevant as they would have been way back then. Noted below are extracts from Swamiji's descriptions of India. To avoid diluting the flavour in Swamiji's words, they have been reproduced as it is from the book, "My India- The India eternal"*.
"If there is any land on this earth that can lay claim to be the blessed punyabhumi, the land where humanity has attained its highest towards gentleness, towards generosity, towards purity, towards calmness, above all, the land of introspection and of spirituality-- it is India."
"The debt which the world owes to our motherland is immense. India has given to anitquity the earliest scientific physicians, and, according to Sir William Hunter, she has even contributed to modern science by the discovery of various chemicals and by teaching you how to reform misshapen ears and noses. Even more it has done in mathematics, for algebra, geometry, astronomy, and the triumph of modern science-- mixed mathematics-- were all invented in India, just as much as the ten numerals, the very cornerstone of all present civillization, were discovered in India, and are in reality, Sanskrit words. In music, India gave to the world her system of notation, with the seven cardinal notes and the diatonic scale. In philology, our Sansksrit language is now universally acknowledged to be the foundation of all European languages. India has given to the world the fables of Aesop, which were copied from an old Sanskrit book; it has given the Arabian Nights, yes, even the story of Cindrella and the Bean stalks. Last but not the least, she invented the game of chess, cards and the dice."
"So great, in fact, was the superiority of India in every respect, that it drew to her borders the hungry cohorts of Europe, and thereby indirectly broughtt about the discovery of America."
"India I loved before I came away. Now the very dust of India has become holy to me, the very air is now holy to me; it is the holy land, the place of pilgrimage, the tirtha!"
"This national ship, my countrymen, my friends, my children-- this national ship has been ferrying millions and millions of souls across the waters of life. But today, perhaps through your own fault, this boat has become a little damaged, has sprung a leak; and would you therefore curse it? Is it fit that you stand up and pronounce malediction upon it, one that has done more work than any other thing in the world? If there are holes in this national ship, this society of ours, we are its children. Let us go and stop the holes. Let us gladly do it with our heart's blood; and if we cannot, then let us die. We will make a plug of our brains and put them into the ship, but condemn it never. Say not one harsh word against this society. I love it for its past greatness." [...to be continued in future posts.]
* "My India, the India eternal" a compilations of swamiji's messages on India published by the Ramakrishna mission institute of Culture, Kolkata. To purchase online, please visit: http://www.chennaimath.org/estore/my-india-the-eternal-india