The nation’s biggest asset


Swami Vivekananda was one of India's leading thinkers who rediscovered Indian philosophy through ancient scriptures, under the mentorship of mystic and yogi Ramakrishna Paramahansa, and brought it into mainstream Indian thought, apart from taking Vedanta to the western world. He represented with distinction India and Hinduism at the Parliament of the World's Religions in Chicago, 1893; it is said the auditorium rang with thunderous applause for a full two minutes after Swamiji had concluded his address. The nation's youth are our strongest and biggest bulwark against the ills plaguing the society at large. The panacea for issues ranging from gender inequality, crimes against women and the elderly, petty offences, drug abuse and the nation's security and safety, boils down to 'resilient youth who are sound of body and mind'.
In this context, one can't help but remember Swami Vivekananda's decades-old message to the youth: "What I want is muscles of iron and nerves of steel, inside which dwells a mind of the same material as that of which the thunderbolt is made." And an apt time it is to remember Swamiji's life and teachings, as January 12 is celebrated as the National Youth Day to mark his birth anniversary. Born in 1863 as Narendranath Datta in an aristocratic family in Calcutta, he was a prolific thinker, philosopher, great orator and a passionate patriot. His teachings brought about a spiritual awakening in the 19th century, especially among the youth. He strongly believed that youth can transform the fate of India through their hard work, dedication and spiritual power.
It is a common misconception that he had a feeling of antipathy towards Islam and former Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru has himself repudiated this theory in The Discovery of India. In his early days, Narendranath used to play a lot of football and cricket. He scalped seven wickets in 1884 while playing for the Town Club team, populated mostly by Bengalis, against the British-dominated Calcutta Cricket Club. One of his well-known observations is: "You will be nearer to God playing football than studying the Bhagavad Gita." With spirituality relegated mainly to TV serials and bookshelves as an accessory, it's time for the youth to awaken again.

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