Monday, August 20, 2018

Ishta - Unique Way

Such an idea as that there is but one way for everybody is injurious, meaningless, and entirely to be avoided. 
Woe unto the world when everyone is of the same religious opinion and takes to the same path. 
Then all religions and all thought will be destroyed. 

Variety is the very soul of life. When it dies out entirely, creation will die. When this variation in thought is kept up, we must exist; and we need not quarrel because of that variety. 
Your way is very good for you, but not for me. 
My way is good for me, but not for you. 
My way is called in Sanskrit, my "Ishta". 

Mind you, we have no quarrel with any religion in the world.
We have each our Ishta. But when we see men coming and saying, "This is the only way", and trying to force it on us in India, we have a word to say; we laugh at them. 
For such people who want to destroy their brothers because they seem to follow a different path towards God -- for them to talk of love is absurd. Their love does not count for much. 
How can they preach of love who cannot bear another man to follow a different path from their own? 
If that is love, what is hatred?  

Swami Vivekananda, 
Address at Jaffna,
Lectures From Colombo to Almora

Saturday, August 18, 2018

Europeanised Indian with no Backbone

There are two great obstacles on our path in India, 
the Scylla of old orthodoxy and the Charybdis of modern European civilisation. 
Of these two, I vote for the old orthodoxy, and not for the Europeanised system; for the old orthodox man may be ignorant, he may be crude, but he is a man, he has a faith, he has strength, he stands on his own feet; while the Europeanised man has no backbone, he is a mass of heterogeneous ideas picked up at random from every source -- and these ideas are unassimilated, undigested, unharmonised. He does not stand on his own feet, and his head is turning round and round. 
Where is the motive power of his work?-- in a few patronising pats from the English people. 
His schemes of reforms, his vehement vituperations against the evils of certain social customs, have, as the mainspring, some European patronage. 

Why are some of our customs called evils? 
Because the Europeans say so. That is about the reason he gives. 
I would not submit to that. 

Stand and die in your own strength; if there is any sin in the world, it is weakness; avoid all weakness, for weakness is sin, weakness is death. 

                  - Swami Vivekananda, 
                    Address at Ramnad, 
                    Lectures From Colombo to Almora

Thursday, August 16, 2018

All are our bodies

In every man and in every animal, however weak or wicked, great or small, resides the same omnipresent, omniscient soul.
 The difference is not in the soul, but in the manifestation. Between me and the smallest animal, the difference is only in manifestation, but as a principle he is the same as I am, he is my brother, he has the same soul as I have. 

This is the greatest principle that India has preached. The talk of the brotherhood of man becomes in India the brotherhood of universal life, of animals, and of all life down to the little ants -- all these are our bodies.  

            -Swami Vivekananda, 
             Address at Jaffna, 
            Lectures From Colombo to Almora

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

British Rule in India

Your questions have tapped the very source of pessimism, however. 
British rule in modern India has only one redeeming feature, though unconscious; it has brought India out once more on the stage of the world; it has forced upon it the contact of the outside world. 
If it had been done with an eye to the good of the people concerned, as circumstances favored Japan with, the results could have been more wonderful for India. No good can be done when the main idea is blood-sucking. 
On the whole the old regime was better for the people, as it did not take away everything they had, and there was some justice, some liberty.

A few hundred, modernized, half-educated, and denationalized men are all the show of modern English India -- nothing else. The Hindus were 600 million in number according to Ferishta, the Mohammedan historian, in the 12th century -- now less than 200 million.

In spite of the centuries of anarchy that reigned during the struggles of the English to conquer, the terrible massacre the English perpetrated in 1857 and 1858, and the still more terrible famines that have become the inevitable consequence of British rule (there never is a famine in a native state) and that take off millions, there has been a good increase of population, but not yet what it was when the country was entirely independent -- that is, before the Mohammedan rule. Indian labor and produce can support five times as many people as there are now in India with comfort, if the whole thing is not taken off from them.

This is the state of things -- even education will no more be permitted to spread; freedom of the press stopped already, (of course we have been disarmed long ago), the bit of self-government granted to them for some years is being quickly taken off. We are watching what next! For writing a few words of innocent criticism, men are being hurried to transportation for life, others imprisoned without any trial ; and nobody knows when his head will be off.

There has been a reign of terror in India for some years. English soldiers are killing our men and outraging our women -- only to be sent home with passage and pension at our expense. We are in a terrible gloom -- where is the Lord? Mary, you can afford to be optimistic, can I? Suppose you simply publish this letter -- the law just passed in India will allow the English Government in India to drag me from here to India and kill me without trial. And I know all your Christian governments will only rejoice, because we are heathens. Shall I also go to sleep and become optimistic? Nero was the greatest optimistic person! They don't think it worth while to write these terrible things as news items even! If necessary, the news agent of Reuter gives the exactly opposite news fabricated to order! Heathen-murdering is only a legitimate pastime for the Christians! Your missionaries go to preach God and dare not speak a word of truth for fear of the English, who will kick them out the next day.

All property and lands granted by the previous governments for supporting education have been swallowed up, and the present Government spends even less than Russia in education. And what education?

The least show of originality is throttled. Mary, it is hopeless with us, unless there really is a God who is the father of all, who is not afraid of the strong to protect the weak, and who is not bribed by wealth. Is there such a God? Time will show.

Swami Vivekananda, 
in a Letter to Mary Hale 
from Ridgely Manor (October 1899)

Sunday, August 12, 2018

All Yogas Leading to Same Goal

There is not really so much difference between knowledge (Jnana) and love (Bhakti) as people sometimes imagine.

 We shall see, as we go on, that in the end they converge and meet and end at the same point.
 So also is it with Raja-Yoga, which when pursued as a means to attain liberation, and not (as unfortunately it frequently becomes in the hands of charlatans and mystery-mongers) as an instrument to hoodwink the unwary, leads us also to the same goal. 

          - Swami Vivekananda, 

Friday, August 10, 2018

God - The Beloved

All of the energies of the human body and mind, howsoever they may express themselves, have the Lord as their one goal, as their Ekayana
All loves and all passions of the human heart must go to God.
He is the Beloved. Whom else can this heart love? 
He is the most beautiful, the most sublime, 
He is beauty itself, sublimity itself. 

Who in this universe is more beautiful than He? 
Who in this universe is more fit to become the husband than He? Who in this universe is fitter to be loved than He? 
So let Him be the husband, let Him be the Beloved.

- Swami Vivekananda, 

Wednesday, August 8, 2018

Mission of India

Each race, ..., has a peculiar bent, each race has a peculiar raison d'être, each race has a peculiar mission to fulfill in the life of the world. Each race has to make its own result, to fulfill its own mission. 

Political greatness or military power is never the mission of our race; it never was, and, mark my words, it never will be.
But there has been the other mission given to us, which is to conserve, to preserve, to accumulate, as it were, into a dynamo, all the spiritual energy of the race, and that concentrated energy is to pour forth in a deluge on the world whenever circumstances are propitious.  

                 - Swami Vivekananda, 
                 Address at Colombo, 
                Lectures From Colombo to Almora

Monday, August 6, 2018

Eternal Life and Law of Karma

We now come to the second principle on which we all agree, not only all Hindus, but all Buddhists and all Jains. 
We all agree that life is eternal. It is not that it has sprung out of nothing, for that cannot be. Such a life would not be worth having. … … 

You know it already that each one of us is the effect of the infinite past; the child is ushered into the world not as something flashing from the hands of nature, as poets delight so much to depict, but he has the burden of an infinite past; for good or evil he comes to work out his own past deeds.
 That makes the differentiation. 
 This is the law of Karma. 

Each one of us is the maker of his own fate. 
This law knocks on the head at once all doctrines of predestination and fate and gives us the only means of reconciliation between God and man.  
Swami Vivekananda, 
Address at Jaffna,
Lectures From Colombo to Almora

Saturday, August 4, 2018

One Generalised Being

The search after the universal is the one search of Indian philosophy and religion. 

The Jnani aims at the wholeness of things, at that one absolute and generalised Being, knowing which he knows everything. 
The Bhakta wishes to realise that one generalised abstract Person, in loving whom he loves the whole universe. 
The Yogi wishes to have possession of that one generalised form of power, by controlling which he controls this whole universe. 

The Indian mind, throughout its history, has been directed to this kind of singular search after the universal in everything -- in science, in psychology, in love, in philosophy. 

              - Swami Vivekananda, 

Thursday, August 2, 2018

Slave to Everything

I who am beyond all pleasure and pain, whose reflection is the whole universe, little bits of whose life are the suns and moons and stars -- i am held down as a terrible slave! 
If you pinch my body, I feel pain.
 If one says a kind word, I begin to rejoice. 
See my condition -- slave of the body, slave of the mind, slave of the world, slave of a good word, slave of a bad word, slave of passion, slave of happiness, slave of life, slave of death, slave of everything! 

This slavery has to be broken. How?
 "This Atman has first to be heard, then reasoned upon, and then meditated upon." 

- Swami Vivekananda, 
Talk in New-York

Monday, July 30, 2018

God as a Child

This idea of loving God as a child comes into existence and grows naturally among those religious sects which believe in the incarnation of God. 
For the Mohammedans it is impossible to have this idea of God as a child; they will shrink from it with a kind of horror.
But the Christian and the Hindu can realise it easily, because they have the baby Jesus and the baby Krishna. 

The women in India often look upon themselves as Krishna's mother; Christian mothers also may take up the idea that they are Christ's mothers, and it will bring to the West the knowledge of God's Divine Motherhood which they so much need. 

                   - Swami Vivekananda, 

Saturday, July 28, 2018

Task for Giant Will

The person who aspires to be a Bhakta must be cheerful. 
In the Western world the idea of a religious man is that he never smiles, that a dark cloud must always hang over his face, which, again, must be long-drawn with the jaws almost collapsed. 

People with emaciated bodies and long faces are fit subjects for the physician, they are not Yogis. 
It is the cheerful mind that is persevering. It is the strong mind that hews its way through a thousand difficulties. 
And this, the hardest task of all, the cutting of our way out of the net of Maya, is the work reserved only for giant wills. 

          - Swami Vivekananda, 

Friday, July 27, 2018


Guru-bhakti is the foundation of all spiritual development.
- Swami Vivekananda

Thursday, July 26, 2018

Vedanta Welcomes All

With the kindest solicitude, the Vedanta points out to aspiring men and women the numerous roads, 
hewn out of the solid rock of the realities of human life, 
by the glorious sons, or human manifestations, of God, 
in the past and in the present, and 
stands with outstretched arms to welcome all -- to welcome even those that are yet to be -- to that Home of Truth and
that Ocean of Bliss, wherein the human soul, 
liberated from the net of Maya, may transport itself with 
perfect freedom and with eternal joy. 

         - Swami Vivekananda, 

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Permeation of Indian Thought

At the beginning of this century, Schopenhauer, the great German philosopher, studying from a not very clear translation of the Vedas made from an old translation into Persian and thence by a young Frenchman into Latin, says, "In the whole world there is no study so beneficial and so elevating as that of the Upanishads. It has been the solace of my life, it will be the solace of my death." 

This great German sage foretold that "The world is about to see a revolution in thought more extensive and more powerful than that which was witnessed by the Renaissance of Greek Literature", and today his predictions are coming to pass. 

Those who keep their eyes open, those who understand the workings in the minds of different nations of the West, those who are thinkers and study the different nations, will find the immense change that has been produced in the tone, the procedure, in the methods, and in the literature of the world by this slow, never-ceasing permeation of Indian thought.  

                  - Swami Vivekananda, 
                  Address at Colombo, 
                    Lectures From Colombo to Almora

Sunday, July 22, 2018

Eternal Fountain of Love

The nearer we approach God, the more do we begin to see that all things are in Him. 
When the soul succeeds in appropriating the bliss of this supreme love, it also begins to see Him in everything. 
Our heart will thus become an eternal fountain of love. 

And when we reach even higher states of this love, all the little differences between the things of the world are entirely lost; man is seen no more as man, but only as God; 
the animal is seen no more as animal, but as God; 
even the tiger is no more a tiger, but a manifestation of God. 

Thus in this intense state of Bhakti, worship is offered to every one, to every life, and to every being. 

एवं सर्वेषु भूतेषु भक्तिरव्याभिचारिणी | 
कर्तव्या पण्डितैर्ज्ञात्वा सर्वभूतमयं हरिम् || --
"Knowing that Hari, the Lord, is in every being, the wise have thus to manifest unswerving love towards all beings."

- Swami Vivekananda, 

Thursday, July 19, 2018

Bhakti-Yoga - Natural Renunciation

The Karma-Yogi's renunciation is in the shape of giving up all the fruits of his action; he is not attached to the results of his labor; he does not care for any reward here or hereafter. 

The Raja-Yogi knows that the whole of nature is intended for the soul to acquire experience, and that the result of all the experiences of the soul is for it to become aware of its eternal separateness from nature. … 

The Jnana-Yogi has the harshest of all renunciations to go through, as he has to realize from the very first that the whole of this solid-looking nature is all an illusion. … … 

Of all renunciations, the most natural, so to say, is that of the Bhakti-Yogi. Here there is no violence, nothing to give up, nothing to tear off, as it were, from ourselves, nothing from which we have violently to separate ourselves. 
The Bhakta's renunciation is easy, smooth flowing, and as natural as the things around us. 

                - Swami Vivekananda, 

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Image-Worship in Various Religions

Of the principal religions of the world we see Vedantism, Buddhism, and certain forms of Christianity freely using images; 
only two religions, Mohammedanism and Protestantism, refuse such help. Yet the Mohammedans use the graves of their saints and martyrs almost in the place of images; and the Protestants, in rejecting all concrete helps to religion, are drifting away every year farther and farther from spirituality till at present there is scarcely any difference between the advanced Protestants and the followers of August Comte, or agnostics who preach ethics alone. 

Again, in Christianity and Mohammedanism whatever exists of image worship is made to fall under that category in which the Pratika or the Pratima is worshiped in itself, but not as a "help to the vision" (Drishtisaukaryam) of God; therefore it is at best only of the nature of ritualistic Karmas and cannot produce either Bhakti or Mukti. 
In this form of image-worship, the allegiance of the soul is given to other things than Ishvara, and, therefore, such use of images, or graves, or temples, or tombs, is real idolatry; 
it is in itself neither sinful nor wicked -- it is a rite -- a Karma, and worshipers must and will get the fruit thereof. 

               - Swami Vivekananda, 

Sunday, July 15, 2018

Om - Perfect Symbol for Sphota

The letter A is the least differentiated of all sounds, therefore Krishna says in the Gita [aksharaanaam Akaarosmi] — "I am A among the letters". 

Again, all articulate sounds are produced in the space within the mouth beginning with the root of the tongue and ending in the lips — the throat sound is A, and M is the last lip sound, and the U exactly represents the rolling forward of the impulse which begins at the root of the tongue till it ends in the lips. 
If properly pronounced, this Om will represent the whole phenomenon of sound-production, and no other word can do this; and this, therefore, is the fittest symbol of the Sphota, which is the real meaning of the Om. 

And as the symbol can never be separated from the thing signified, the Om and the Sphota are one.
And as the Sphota, being the finer side of the manifested universe, is nearer to God and is indeed that first manifestation of divine wisdom, this Om is truly symbolic of God.

- Swami Vivekananda, 

Friday, July 13, 2018

Worshiping God as Human Being

Two kinds of men do not worship God as man -- 
the human brute who has no religion, and 
the Paramahamsa who has risen beyond all the weaknesses of humanity and has transcended the limits of his own human nature. 
To him all nature has become his own Self. He alone can worship God as He is. 

Here, too, as in all other cases, the two extremes meet. 
The extreme of ignorance and the other extreme of knowledge -- neither of these go through acts of worship. 

The human brute does not worship because of his ignorance, and the Jivanmuktas (free souls) do not worship because they have realized God in themselves. 
Being between these two poles of existence, if any one tells you that he is not going to worship God as man, take kindly care of that man; he is, not to use any harsher term, an irresponsible talker; his religion is for unsound and empty brains. 

                     - Swami Vivekananda, 

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Books Alone won't Help

We may study books all our lives, we may become very intellectual, but in the end we find that we have not developed at all spiritually. 
It is not true that a high order of intellectual development always goes hand in hand with a proportionate development of the spiritual side in Man. 
In studying books we are sometimes deluded into thinking that thereby we are being spiritually helped; but if we analyse the effect of the study of books on ourselves, we shall find that at the utmost it is only our intellect that derives profit from such studies, and not our inner spirit. 

This inadequacy of books to quicken spiritual growth is the reason why, although almost every one of us can speak most wonderfully on spiritual matters, when it comes to action and the living of a truly spiritual life, we find ourselves so awfully deficient. 

                       - Swami Vivekananda, 

Sunday, July 8, 2018

No God Separate From Higher "You"

You are where you are; 
these dreams, these various clouds move. 
One dream follows another without connection. 

There is no such thing as law or connection in this world, 
but we are thinking that there is a great deal of connection. … 

… When we wake from this dream of the world and compare it with the Reality, it will be found all incongruous nonsense, a mass of incongruity passing before us, we do not know whence or whither, but we know it will end; and this is called Maya, 
and is like masses of fleeting fleecy clouds. They represent all this changing existence, and the sun itself, the unchanging, is you. 

When you look at that unchanging Existence from the outside, you call it God; and when you look at it from the inside, you call it yourself. 

It is but one. There is no God separate from you, no God higher that you, the real "you".

- Swami Vivekananda, 
Talk in New-York

Wednesday, July 4, 2018

Free Will - Sheer Nonsense!

As long as you are in the network of time, space, and causation, to say you are free is nonsense, because in that network all is under rigorous law, sequence and consequence. 
Every thought that you think is caused, every feeling has been caused; to say that the will is free is sheer nonsense. 
It is only when the infinite existence comes, as it were, into this network of Maya that it takes the form of will. 
Will is a portion of that being, caught in the network of Maya, and therefore "free will" is a misnomer. 
It means nothing -- sheer nonsense. 

So is all this talk about freedom. 
There is no freedom in Maya. … … 

True freedom cannot exist in the midst of this delusion, this hallucination, this nonsense of the world, this universe of the senses, body, and mind.

- Swami Vivekananda, 
Talk in New-York