Sunday, October 14, 2018

Gift of India

Those that tell you that Indian thought never went outside of India, those that tell you that I am the first Sannyasin who went to foreign lands to preach, do not know the history of their own race. 

Again and again this phenomenon has happened. 
Whenever the world has required it, this perennial flood of spirituality has overflowed and deluged the world. 
Gifts of political knowledge can be made with the blast of trumpets and the march of cohorts. Gifts of secular knowledge and social knowledge can be made with fire and sword. 
But spiritual knowledge can only be given in silence like the dew that falls unseen and unheard, yet bringing into bloom masses of roses. 

This has been the gift of India to the world again and again. Whenever there has been a great conquering race, bringing the nations of the world together, making roads and transit possible, immediately India arose and gave her quota of spiritual power to the sum total of the progress to the world. 

           - Swami Vivekananda, 
             Address at Victoria Hall Madras, 
            Lectures From Colombo to Almora

Friday, October 12, 2018

Ancient Reformers

Did India ever stand in want of reformers? 
Do you read the history of India? Who was Ramanuja? Who was Shankara? Who was Nanak? Who was Chaitanya? Who was Kabir? Who was Dadu? 

Who were all these great preachers, one following the other, a galaxy of stars of the first magnitude? 
Did not Ramanuja feel for the lower classes? Did he not try all his life to admit even the Pariah to his community? Did he not try to admit even Mohammedans to his own fold? 
Did not Nanak confer with Hindus and Mohammedans, and try to bring about a new state of things? 

They all tried, and their work is still going on. The difference is this. They had not the fanfaronade of the reformers of today; they had no curses on their lips as modern reformers have; their lips pronounced only blessings. 
They never condemned. 

             - Swami Vivekananda, 
               Address at Victoria Hall Madras, 
               Lectures From Colombo to Almora

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Idol Worship

Take a thousand idols more if you can produce Ramakrishna Paramahamsas through idol-worship, and may God speed you! 
Produce such noble natures by any means you can. 
Yet idolatry is condemned! 

Why? Nobody knows. 

Because some hundreds of years ago some man of Jewish blood happened to condemn it? 
That is, he happened to condemn everybody else's idols except his own. 

If God is represented in any beautiful form or any symbolic form, said the Jew, it is awfully bad; it is sin. 
But if He is represented in the form of a chest, with two angels sitting on each side, and a cloud hanging over it, 
it is the holy of holies. 
If God comes in the form of a dove, it is holy. But if He comes in the form of a cow, it is heathen superstition; 
condemn it! 

That is how the world goes. 

That is why the poet says, "What fools we mortals be!" 
How difficult it is to look through each other's eyes, and that is the bane of humanity. That is the basis of hatred and jealousy, of quarrel and of fight. 

               - Swami Vivekananda, 
                Address at Victoria Hall Madras, 
                Lectures From Colombo to Almora

Sunday, October 7, 2018

Inheritance from the Buddhists

You read in books written by men who had never studied the rise and fall of Buddhism that the spread of Buddhism was owing to the wonderful ethics and the wonderful personality of Gautama Buddha. 
I have every respect and veneration for Lord Buddha, but mark my words, the spread of Buddhism was less owing to the doctrines and the personality of the great preacher, than to the temples that were built, the idols that were erected, and the gorgeous ceremonials that were put before the nation. 
Thus Buddhism progressed. 

The little fire-places in the houses in which the people poured their libations were not strong enough to hold their own against these gorgeous temples and ceremonies; but later on the whole thing degenerated. It became a mass of corruption of which I cannot speak before this audience; but those who want to know about it may see a little of it in those big temples, full of sculptures, in Southern India; and this is all the inheritance we have from the Buddhists. 

                          - Swami Vivekananda, 
                           Address at Victoria Hall Madras, 
                           Lectures From Colombo to Almora

Friday, October 5, 2018

Do Not Deny the God Within You

Let every man and woman and child, without respect of 
caste or birth, weakness or strength, hear and learn that 
behind the strong and the weak, behind the high and the low, behind every one, there is that Infinite Soul, 
assuring the infinite possibility and the infinite 
capacity of all to become great and good. 

Let us proclaim to every soul: 
उत्तिष्ठत जाग्रत प्राप्य वरान्निबोधत -- arise, awake, and stop not till the goal is reached. Arise, awake! 

Awake from this hypnotism of weakness. 
None  is really weak; the soul is infinite, omnipotent, and 
Stand up, assert yourself, proclaim the God within you, do not deny Him! 

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

Wednesday, October 3, 2018


If we are inseparable from God, have we no individuality?
Oh, yes: that is God. Our individuality is God. 
This is not the individuality you have now; 
you are coming towards that. 

Individuality means what cannot be divided. 
How can you call this individuality? 
One hour you are thinking one way, and the next hour another way, and two hours after, another way. 
Individuality is that which changes not -- is beyond all things, changeless. 
It would be tremendously dangerous for this state to remain in eternity, because then the thief would always remain a thief and the blackguard a blackguard. 
If a baby died, he would have to remain a baby. The real individuality is that which never changes and will never change; and that is the God within us. 

                    - Swami Vivekananda, 
                     On the Vedanta Philosophy, 
                     Notes from Lectures and Discourses

Monday, October 1, 2018

Law and Freedom

Just as the greatest emperors sometimes play with dolls, 
so He [God] is playing with this nature; and what we call law is this. We call it law, because we can see only little bits which run smoothly. All our ideas of law are within the little bit. 
It is nonsense to say that law is infinite … 
… As a matter of fact, we get gradually outside of law, 
until we get out altogether, but with the added experience of a whole life. 
In God and freedom we began, and freedom and God will be the end. These laws are in the middle state through which we have to pass. 
Our Vedanta is the assertion of freedom always. 
The very idea of law will frighten the Vedantist; and eternal law is a very dreadful thing for him, because there would be no escape. If there is to be an eternal law binding him all the time, where is the difference between him and a blade of grass? We do not believe in that abstract idea of law. 
                              - Swami Vivekananda, 
                                Law and Freedom, 
                               Notes from Lectures and Discourses