Gita Jayanti and Samartha Bharat Parva Celebrated - VKV Neepco Yazali
Gita Jayanti is the Utsava we celebrate mainly to invigorate ourselves by diving deep into our scriptures. Gita gives in a very simple and yet profound manner the Vedic Wisdom. Whether a pandit or an ordinary person, aged or young, a leader or a follower, Gita is for all. Gita represents not only the wisdom of Vedas but also gives such a synthesis of thought that we can resolve all the paradoxes of life. But this insight in Gita we cannot get by giving cursory reading or just celebrating Gita Jayanti. The study of Gita has to be daily with reverent contemplation for whole life.
Gita is like a mother who takes us in her lap when we are grieved and sad. She is like a Guru who guides us for achieving the goal of life and also guides us in our path. She is also like a goddess who protects us from the fall if we hold on to her. She is also the scriptural form of our dear motherland as She tells all that which this land of ours is manifesting in her national life.
Sometimes people quote the saying of Swami Vivekananda that, “You will be nearer to Heaven through football than through the study of Gita” and say that the game of football is more important than the study of Gita. But it is missing the point. Gita is not for mere intellectual study but it is to be practiced in life, as for us religion is not in believing but in being and becoming. Swami Vivekananda said, “You will understand Gita better with your biceps, your muscles, a little stronger. You will understand the mighty genius and the mighty strength of Krishna better with a little of strong blood in you (CWSV Vol 3 Page 242)…If one reads this one shloka –Klaibyam ma sma gamah Partha …- one gets all the merits of reading the entire Gita; for in this one shloka lies embedded the whole Message of the Gita .”(CWSV Vol 4 page 110)…For all of us in this world, life is a continuous fight … Many a time comes when we want to interpret our weakness and cowardice as forgiveness and renunciation … Gita opens with this very significant verse: Arise O Prince! Give up this fainthearted-ness, this weakness, Stand up and fight.”(CWSV Vol14 page 459)
A tamasik and coward cannot face the battles of life. To be fearless and not to be chickenhearted one requires strong body and courageous heart. Strong and not weak men can practice Gita. It is to develop that strength, Swamiji said ‘Play Football’.
Secondly, the game of football is completely a team game. Each second, each action and each intention of the team member is to be internalized by each team member. With all efforts and best play by a player, it is possible that the credit of making goal may not go to that player but to someone else in the team. Each one in the team offers his best to the team effort and does not make any individual claims. That is what is Yagna- the central theme of Gita. Offer the fruit of your action to the society at large and partake only the Yganashishtah - whatever remains for you. That is, one must have that team spirit, that humility to be part of the team and then to do the best of whatever comes to our lot. After doing work to the best of the ability offer it again to the collectivity at large and partake whatever comes to your share. This is seen explicitly in the game of football. That is why Swamiji had said that to understand Gita better, play football. Here ‘playing football’ is not given as the substitute to study of Gita or even as a remedy to understand Gita but as an indication of what is required to understand Gita.
Nowadays there is lot of awakening regarding the religious conversion that is taking place. Srikrishna tells us in Gita why conversion should not be resorted to. He says 'Paradharmo bhayavah' – the religious practices of others could be horrible for our growth. He says, 'swalpamapyasya dharmasya trayate mahato bhayat' – even a little but regular practice of our own Dharma can be elevating. Commenting on that Swami Vivekananda had said, “Even is you have knowledge, do not disturb the childlike faith of the ignorant. On the other hand, go down to their level and gradually bring them up. That is a very powerful idea, and it has become the ideal in India. That is why you can see a great philosopher going into a temple and worshipping images. It is not hypocrisy.” (CWSV Vol 1 Page : 468)
Why there should be conversion at all? Only a person who has no understanding of God would resort to convert others or would limit God to his god. God is not different but is only worshiped and prayed to with different names. Swami Vivekananda further explains, “Sri Krishna says, “Even those who worship other deities are really worshiping me” It is God incarnate whom man is worshiping. Would God be angry if you called Him by the wrong name? He would be no God at all! Can’t you understand that whatever a man has in his own heart is God-even if he worships a stone. What of that! (CWSV Vol 1 Page : 468)
We will understand more clearly if we once get rid of the idea that religion consists in doctrines. One idea of a religion has been that the whole world was born because Adam ate the apple, and there is no way of escape. Believe in Jesus Christ-in a certain man’s death! But in India there is a quite different idea. There religion means realization, nothing else. It does not matter whether one approaches the destination in a carriage with four horses, in an electric car, or rolling on the ground. The goal is the same. For the Christians the problem is how to escape the wrath of the terrible God. For Indians it is how to become what they really are, to regain their lost selfhood. (CWSV Vol 1 page 468)…. Therefore, Krishna says, if your method is better and higher, you have no business to say that another man’s method is bad, however wicked you may think it. (CWSV Vol 1 page 469)
Again we must consider, religion is a matter of growth, not a mass of foolish words. Two thousand years ago a man saw God. Moses saw God in a burning bush. Does what Moses did when he saw God save you? No man’s seeing God can help you least bit except that it may excite you and urge you to do the same thing. That is the whole value of the ancient’s examples. Nothing more. Just like signposts on the way. No man’s eating can satisfy another man. You have to see God yourself… Each one thinks his method is best. Very good. But remember, it may be good for you….Because it is good for you do not jump to the conclusion that your method is everybody’s method.(CWSV Vol 1 Page 4698-70)
Sri Krishna says, “Better die in your own religion than attempt the path of another.” This is my path, and I am down here. And you are way up there, and I am down here. And you are way up there, and I am always tempted to give up my path thinking I will go there and be with you. And if I give up, I am neither there nor here. We must not lose sight of this doctrine. It is all a matter of growth. Wait and grow, and you attain everything; otherwise there will be great spiritual danger. Here is the fundamental secret of teaching religion. (Vol I – Gita III Page 473))” A person who is truly religious will never resort to convert others or deride the faith of others as false.
Even one of the attributes of God is that he accepts all the people as they are and does not exclude anyone. While talking about Krishna, Swamiji says, “This was the great work of Krishna: to clear our eyes and make us look with broader vision upon humanity in its march upward and onward. His was the first heart that was large enough to see truth in all, his the first lips that uttered beautiful words for each and all.” (CWSV Vol 1 Page 438)
Whether management, sociology, self-development, education on each subject Gita has something to tell us. Now a days many such books are also coming in the market. We should try to understand Gita in present context and then pass it on the next generation. The younger generation is bound to admire and practice Gita if it is told to them in today's language and paradigms. Our purpose of celebrating Gita Jayanti should be this, that the relevance of Gita is understood and explained to the younger generation in today's terminology. That is why since few years we have linked the celebration Gita Jayanti to Kutumba Sammelan as Gita should become the basic book that is read and discussed in the families. Family is a place where children acquire views and values. In moulding the children, the influence of Gita would be most useful, elevating, guiding force not only in their childhood but also later when the parents are not around. Gita – as a mother would take care of the individual and any collective like family, society, nation. This connecting of our children, youth, Karyakarta to Gita is the purpose of celebrating Gita Jayanti.
This year, the Kutumba Sammelan can be planned virtually or really. This year in the Kutumba Sammelans can the family take a resolve to study Gita together in a family once a week till the next Gita Jayanti? This year Gita Jayanti is on 25 December which happens to be Friday, so every Friday can the family members sit around one hour and study and discuss Gita? Vivekananda Kendra has brought out a book ‘Gita in Daily Life’ in which in total 61 shlokas, the essentials to Gita for younger generation is given. Every week one shloka and its meaning can be discussed. The children could be even motivated to learn the shlokas by heart.
To conclude in the words of Swami Vivekananda, “May the great Krishna bless us, and lead us all to the fulfillment of our aims.
Samarth Bharat Parva
It was on 25, 26, 27 December 1892 that Swami Vivekananda mediated on the mid-sea rock at Kanyakumari and took the momentous decision to represent Hindu Dharma at the Parliament of Religion at Chicago so as to awaken the Hindu nation. Thus, these three days are the days when we meditate on Bharatmata and resolve and rededicate ourselves for nation building. To take the inspiring message of Swami Vivekananda to the youth of India to enhance their self-confidence and also to inspire them to work to make country Samartha for guiding the world, Vivekananda Kendra celebrates the period starting from 25 December – Swamiji’s visit to Kanyakumari to 12 January - the birth anniversary of Swami Vivekananda as Samartha Bharat Parva. Various programs like exhibitions, quiz, Motivation camps, workshops etc. are to be organized for the youth.
This year taking into account the situation due to COVID we can have different types of programs. We can call for the competition like making small videos/PPTs on strength of India, contributions of India in various periods/fields. We can also have competitions of the composition and singing of patriotic songs, for various college teams. As Vivekananda Rock Memorial completes 50 years we can also have the topic for these competitions like ‘Lessons on success from the story of Vivekananda Rock Memorial. While organizing it whether virtual or actual, it would be good if we could involve those who had participated in the last year Utho Jago Pratiyogita so that they also get associated with the Kendra. For judges etc. again we can try to involve those whom we had contacted during the ‘Ek Bharat, Vijayi Bharat.’
Keeping in mind the Niyojit places where we want to start the work of Vivekananda Kendra before it completes its 50 years, it would be good if we focus on the colleges of these Niyojit places also along with where already our branches exist. Thus this year, even the message of Samartha Bharat is to focus on the purpose and work of Vivekananda Kendra and the significance of work among the youth.
India, the land which has realized and nurtured the national life on Oneness does not make difference in spiritual and mundane. Here everything is sacred. Thus, the life is not to be frowned upon but lived robustly as well as meaningfully. Our Upanishads talk of such constructive and very robust attitude towards life.
- Since Vedic times, our land had cherished youth. Unit of happiness in Upanishads is not heaven but young man with eight attributes. Youth simply because he or she is young, cannot serve as the unit of happiness. Six more constituents are required for youth to be unit of happiness (i) goodness (ii) good disposition (iii) education – the stimulation and expansion of creative intelligence (iv) hope and aspiration (aim in life) – joyous beckoning of the future (v) firmness of mind and purpose - disciplined will (vi) strength of body – general physical health and well being. Upanishad is not satisfied with these attributes so adds the seventh (vii) command over use of wealth. To have such youth is the need of the hour. All other forms of happiness in ascending series of the happiness of angels, gods, prajapati, etc. are just the multiples of hundreds of the happiness of such well-developed and motivated youth. In other words, the beginning of the ultimate happiness of human life is the well-developed youth. (From article titled ‘Youth-the unit of human bliss’ by Swami Ranganathananda ji in Yuva Bharati March 1974) Swami Vivekananda wanted young men and women who were fired with the zeal of holiness. Thus, our work is to focus on such youth who would work out the problems like the heroes of the yore.
- There are people who say that the youth of our country are useless, are more behind enjoyment, career etc. But this is not true. We could learn to look at the situation in larger perspective like Mananeeya Eknathji. India was full of Tamas earlier. There was no sign of life, anyone could kick us but there was no reaction or response. Generally, when we see the signs of unrest we get restless, we think the youth is lost, that is what used to happen in 1970s. But the visionaries like Eknathji could see much beyond it. While writing of unrest of youth he said- 'But, now encouraging signs of awakening are seen. Unrest, like zest is a sign of robust life and is a harbinger of progress. It generates energy and activity. There is no need to be alarmed at students’ unrest. Out of present exuberance of meaningless or destructive activity of the young, there is bound to emerge soon the next phase, the dawn of wisdom and discrimination – which will make our country rediscover its mission and give a new direction to all its endeavours.' (From editorial of Mananeeya Eknathji in Yuva Bharati of November 1973). Today after forty years we do see our youth full of energy, wanting to know, dreaming big dreams. It is a good sign, it means with increasing confidence in themselves, they dream big. Our work is to give them the right dreams, to tell them in what lies the real manliness – Purushartha, striving for the mundane and the spiritual. Also, it is seen that when rightly approached, the youth respond to the call of Seva. Therefore, the need of the hour is to channelize the energy of the youth, to expand their horizons when they are set out to see the boundaries of their achievements.
- The religion suffers when it falls in the hands of weak people. Therefore, Swamiji wanted us to be strong, even for the fulfillment of spiritual mission of India. Our Upanishads have this atmosphere of positive thinking, freshness, vigor and zest. Godliness is the fulfillment of manliness and not its negation. Man must first achieve human well-being before running after divine happiness. Otherwise religion will be cheap and happiness achieved through that sham. In India at present many are still away from that elementary unit of human happiness – Thus the need is of reaching out to the masses in far off villages, in Tribal belts. Swami Vivekananda was not a speculative philosopher nor for him Vedanta was a personal philosophy but he wanted the Vedanta to be practical. Vedanta explains the Oneness of the existence. This Oneness is to be realized no doubt but it also needs to be expressed in our life. So, the spontaneous Seva to the needy is the expression of that deep feeling of Oneness for all. A more religious person means, he should be working with more zest for the good of the people.
- At present – religion taken in the sense of religious activities takes away zest, narrows the interest and makes man self-centered. True religion i.e. Dharma and culture do not destroy zest, but purify, expand and heighten it. The moment one realizes oneself as one with all, (Tat tvam asi) a new zest comes to one, more intense, more pervasive and more pure. To make others happy should be one’s happiness, to serve others and help them to achieve their life’s fulfillment becomes one’s fulfillment. Need of the hour is proper interpretation of religion. People of India are religious minded. All over the country there is manifestation of growing religiosity. But this religiosity is not reflected in traits of godward society like – purposeful living, discipline, fellow-feeling, integrity etc. Instead we see the corruption, selfishness, individualism, materialism etc. on increase in spite of increasing crowds in religious places, and more religiosity in the society. It means somewhere our interpretation of Dharma is wrong. We need the right interpretation of Dharma. We need to focus on the eternal truth of Dharma and practice them in life. This is what Swami Vivekananda had told us that conquering the world with spirituality means making the life-giving principles of our Dharma practical. It was this dream of Swami Vivekananda that Mananeeya Sri Eknathji translated into starting of Vivekananda Kendra as the sequel to Vivekananda Rock Memorial.
- To sum up, the need of the hour is the requirement of a mighty thought movement for 1) transforming our people’s inherent godwardness in to right spiritual urge rising out of Vedic teachings – a) Each soul is potentially divine b) faith in god, means faith in oneself 2) to convert the spiritual fervor thus released into work of national reconstruction. Vivekananda Kendra is thus a movement to rouse the masses to intense activity towards national reconstruction.
- Swami Vivekananda saw that the easiest way of doing great work is to come together and work in an organized way. He always exhorted his disciples and brother disciples to start the service organizations. The confidence generated due to the message of Swami Vivekananda resulted in the starting of numerous social, national and religious and spiritual movements. These institutions inspired by him, directly or indirectly, are contributing greatly in multifarious social works.
- Kanyakumari is the meeting point of all rivers of the East and West and of North & South. It is a place for contemplation and then purposeful action. It was on this Rock at the confluence of seas in Kanyakumari that Swami Vivekananda meditated on India with a desire to work for people, to rejuvenate this land. It was here on this Rock that he realized that men -whose dormant spirit is awakened -are needed. Men are the first need of the hour. It is only by working regularly with higher aim, in interactive way with the team, that man with capital M is developed (In short, the description of our Karyapaddhati) We have to work towards it. More and more men giving prime-most importance to the nation, are required to rebuild the nation. The man-making work –of identifying and organizing the men who would give regular time and energy for the society is the basic work that needs to be focused as we move forward to actualize our planning for the 50 years of Vivekananda Kendra.
Swami Vivekananda had said, “I do not see into the future; nor do I care to see. But one vision I see clear as life before me; that the ancient Mother has awakened once more, sitting on Her throne – rejuvenated, more glorious than ever. Proclaim Her to all the world with the voice of peace and benediction.” (CWSV Vol 4 Page 353) Let the inspiration of Swami Vivekananda work through all of us to make India Jagadguru.