Swami Vivekananda has influenced young minds to walk on the path of enlightenment for more than a centennial. Stretching his wings of spirituality out to the world, he started a revolution which still resonates among millions of his followers. Born on January 12, 1863, Vivekananda’s teachings continues to be a powerhouse of knowledge.
From a young age, he took delight in various subjects, including religion, philosophy, art, literature and social sciences. He was also drawn towards the sacred books of the Hindu religion. Bewitched in the charm of the wandering monks, he started meditating before the idols of Lord Shiva, Lord Rama and Mahavir Hanuman.
Curiosity in his eyes and the desire to get closer to the supreme power, he once asked his Guru, Sri Ramakrishna, “Have you seen God?” Without any qualms, his master replied, “Yes, I have. I see Him as clearly as I see you, only in a much intenser sense.”
The pain of the loss of his dear ones gave him the sense of an inner awakening and he founded the Ramakrishna Mission and extended his knowledge to the West. Even after his death on July 4, 1902, his words of wisdom echo through the walls of the spiritual world — “Each soul is potentially divine. The goal is to manifest this Divinity within by controlling nature, external and internal. Do this either by work, or worship, or mental discipline, or philosophy—by one, or more, or all of these—and be free.”
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Swami Vivekananda spelt out the four pathways of attaining moksha from the worldly pleasure and attachment in his books — Raja-yoga, Karma-yoga, Jnana-yoga and Bhakti-yoga.
Karma-yoga, or the yoga of selfless action tells that through the correct actions, the ‘troublemaker’ ego can turn into the ‘troubleshooter’ ego. It says that even if you do not believe in God, just focus on your work with utmost honesty, dedication and power of your mind. Be non-attached and keep working for work’s sake. Instead of worrying about the results, leave the fruits of your work to the Lord.
Bhakti-yoga is the process of inner purification. Love is the vital element for all human beings, it teaches. Love is pure and cosmic, but ego pollutes it and gives out negative elements like lust, greed, jealousy and anger. God is the only one who truly loves us. Pour holy thoughts into the mind with prayer, chant holy words, study holy books and keep the holy company close to your heart.
Raja-yoga seeks to attain the divine by igniting the flame of knowledge of the self within. Most seekers do not have the patience and perseverance to follow this path for the sacrifices that it calls for. Raja-yoga dispels that the mind is perverted to follow the path of reason. Teaching the process of meditation and concentration, it tells you to confront the restlessness of the mind and uproot it.
Jnana-yoga is the path of knowledge. Weeding out the darkness of ignorance through the light of knowledge, it brings the ‘fire’ and ‘light’ alive by burning all the impurities of the mind. The mind does not give up its attachment to worldly pleasures unless it has tasted something greater and higher. Self-knowledge, according to jnana-yoga, is true liberation.
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On his 154th birth anniversary, read some of his most inspirational quotes:
* “Take up one idea. Make that one idea your life; dream of it; think of it; live on that idea. Let the brain, the body, muscles, nerves, every part of your body be full of that idea, and just leave every other idea alone. This is the way to success, and this is the way great spiritual giants are produced.”
* “Arise! Awake! And stop not until the goal is reached.”
* “Where can we go to find God if we cannot see Him in our own hearts and in every living being.”
* “All the powers in the universe are already ours. It is we who have put our hands before our eyes and cry that it is dark.”
* “Ask nothing; want nothing in return. Give what you have to give; it will come back to you, but do not think of that now.”