Saturday, January 12, 2013

Swami Vivekananda, as a wandering Monk

It is said, "A nation that can produce ten great men, in the eyes of the lord, knows no extinction". This has indeed been the secret behind India's eternal existence. Selfless men have risen in every age and have laid down their lives for the good of the masses. The 19th century was fortunate to see the flourish of one such modern-Yogi, Swami Vivekananda. On the 150th  anniversary of his birth, I feel a sense of accomplishment and a gush of spirit as I compose this post (the first of a series of posts to follow) on the 'Cyclonic Monk'.  
(I have attempted to only describe two incidents from his life as a wandering monk. It would also be relevant to check this previous post: )

The Swamiji, during his five-year-long wandering in India as a monk, was invited to the courts of several kings. On one such occasion, the Maharaja Mangal Singh of Alwar (in modern day Rajasthan), owing to 'unassimilated western education', strongly condemned idol-worship as nonsense and deemed all idol worshippers to be fools. Swamiji, pointing to a portrait of the Maharaja, ordered the courtiers to spit on it. They were greatly shocked and raised a voice of protest at Swamiji's unreasonable demands. 
"O King, although this is merely a piece of paper with no flesh or bones, people nevertheless have a reverence towards it. It is quite understandable that it is 'you' that they actually revere and not the paper of the portrait. Similarly, when a devotee worships a piece of stone or a log of wood, it is the infinite lord that he worships. The idol simply aids him in personifying the lord which he clearly understands to be infinite, far from being trapped in an idol". No sooner had Swamiji said these words of wisdom than the Maharaja, full of shame, landed on Swamiji's feet.

On another occasion, at a railway station where Swamiji was seated, people kept flocking to him, seeking answers on various issues. This went on, without any respite, for 3 days. Yet, he patiently guided them, without pausing for even food or water, let alone for sleep. At the end of the third day, when a cobbler expressed awe at this, Swamiji was suddenly reminded of hunger. He requested the cobbler to get him some roti (bread). 
"Reverend Swamiji! If I, a pariah (outcast), give you roti prepared by me, not only will people stop revering you, but I too am bound to be punished by the king. Instead, I shall get you the necessary flour and you can prepare roti as you will".
Swamiji replied, "These three days, no one even cared to ask me if I was hungry. Their reverence is of no value to me if they consider you an outcast. Only if you prepare me roti, shall I eat."
The cobbler readily obliged by fetching some freshly prepared roti, which Swamiji accepted with tears of gratitude. This incident made him feel deep agony at the plight of the so called 'outcasts'. Quite often during his wanderings, he noticed that it was in the downtrodden poor-class that the richest values of humanity manifested. 

He had once asserted, "It may be that I shall find it good to get outside of my body—to cast it off like a disused garment. But I shall not cease to work! I shall inspire men everywhere, until the world shall know that it is one with God." True to his words, even a century after his departure from the world of mortals, Swami Vivekananda continues to inspire millions all over the world. 
 (to be continued......)


Anonymous said...
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Karthik Rao said...

Inspiring Super-man!

ajaypaip said...

Thanks a lot Karthik...

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