SWAMI VIVEKANANDA'S IMPORTANCE IN HISTORY
Swami Vivekananda has been described by an eminent British historian as 'ONE OF THE MAIN MOLDERS OF THE MODERN WORLD.' Indeed, many thought currents and social attitudes of the twentieth century show the direct or indirect influence of Swamiji, although it may not have been always recognized as such. Although born in India, and immensely proud of his motherland, Swami Vivekananda was essentially a man without frontiers, and is sure to be regarded as one of the ARCHITECTS OF GLOBAL UNITY in the coming decades or centuries.
The end of the nineteenth century marked one of the great watersheds in the history of humanity. Medieval beliefs, values and ideals were losing ground and the twentieth century with its spectacular achievements in science and technology and radical socio-polital changes was about to be born. It was at this critical juncture that Swami Vivekananda appeared on the world scene - a spiritual colossus with his feet planted on the East and the West, with his lofty mind straddling millenniums in the breadth of its vision, with his heart open to whole humanity. Some of the main contributions of Swamiji to the creation of the modern world may be summarized as follows.
SWAMI VIVEKANANDA GAVE TO THE MODERN WORLD:-
- a new view of man as riding the crest of evolution and as the maker of his own destiny;
- a new view of Reality which is in harmony with the discoveries of modern science;
- a new view of Life as the manifestation of the inherent potentialities of the soul;
- a new view of ethics and morality based on freedom, fearlessness and strength;
- a new social order which is not only free from suppression and exploitation of the poor but ensures the elevation of the lowest caste to the level of the Brahmin, and also ensures freedom, equality and respect for women;
- a new view of religion which is free from superstitions, dogmatism and intolerance,which fosters universal brotherhood and which is a means of attaining the highest fulfillment in life. These ideas of Swami Vivekananda are bound to gain greater relevance in the coming decades and centuries.
It may not be an exaggeration to state that modern Hinduism is the creation of Swami Vivekananda. Swamiji brought about a grand unification of Hinduism by reconciling its various sects and schools of thought. He interpreted its ancient scriptures and concepts in terms of modern thought. He renewed and make available to all people the priceless treasures of Hindu spirituality and yoga. He rejuvenated and modernizes Hindu monasticism by involving monks in social service. Swamiji's work in all these fields has been compared to the work of SHANKARACHARYA a thousand years before.
There are, however, two areas in which Swami Vivekananda went far beyond all earlier teachers. Long before the term GLOBALIZATION was invented, Swamiji exhorted Indians to come out of their holes and join other peoples in world culture, commerce, science and technology.
The second field in which Vivekananda remains unique as a religious leader is in his speaking for, and working for, the poor downtrodden masses. At a time when almost all the social leaders were busy with social reforms, Swami Vivekananda stood up and pointed out that the main cause of India's downfall was the neglect and exploitation of the masses by the upper classes and castes. Travelling alone the length and breadth of India, Swamiji saw with his own eyes the utter poverty and backwardness of the common masses. He conceived a project for mass education, awakening and uplift of the poor in India. One of the reasons for Swamiji's going to the West was to seek financial support for his project. After his return from the West he established RAMAKRISHNA MISSION without any distinctions of caste, creed, race, etc.