A GREAT LEGACY BUT LESS POPULARISED
He heralded meaningful understanding of Sanathana Dharma
on the world stage.
SWAMI VIVEKANNADA was the great sage who initiated the orientation of the west towards understanding the oriental philosophies and culture. He single handedly and with great ease heralded the modernization, manifestation and meaningful understanding of Sanathan Dharma with all the concepts of intrinsic value to life on the world stage.
The first great Motivational Guru
Then emboldened by his very own motivations, for I consider him as the first great Motivational Guru, never to get bogged down by anything I decided to present this small write up and invariably when one writes about such great souls one cannot avoid using their own words to depict the many ideals and realities which they emphasized for the happy and harmonious living of everyone and environment.
Thus this whole write up is just made up mostly of Swami Vivekananda’s own words with some humble interpretations or at best one may label it as mere titling with different nomenclatures.
Being a sage who always insisted on speaking and following the heartfelt and spiritually correct truth, he never resorted to play politics and therefore declared facts as they were without any hypocritical and diplomatic pandering to popular opinion or pleasing preaching to either the Indians or the Westerners.
His legacy does not need sponsoring by lesser mortals
who have decided our history books.
This being the case, albeit unfortunate, it is no wonder that SWAMI VIVEKANANDA does not occupy great space in our history books and biographies of nationalists, patriots and philosophers etc. It is perhaps the curse of this land that great and good souls are not officially anointed and appreciated but then the legacy that they have left is so great that it does not require sponsoring by these lesser mortals parading their parochial agenda and pandering the pats from their pay masters.
He never hesitated to acknowledge fact and frankly
declare them as they were.
One great and unique lesson that Swami Vivekananda taught through his life was that he never hesitated not only to see and accept facts as they were unmindful of whether they would contradict anything that he was following close to his heart but he also frankly gave his views and spelt out his feelings about those facts ,even if it meant confronting pet beliefs of his followers. Here are a few examples.
The mistake of Indian Priests
“One thing can be said for these Indian priests - they were not, and never are, intolerant of religion; they never have persecuted religion. Any man was allowed to preach against them. Theirs is such a religion; they never molested any one for his religious views. But they suffered from the peculiar weakness of all priests: they also sought power, they also promulgated rules and regulations and made religion unnecessarily complicated, and thereby undermined the strength of those who followed their religion”. (CW, Vol.8: Buddha's Message to the World, p.97)
“Priests are an evil in every country because they denounce and criticise, pulling at one string to mend it until two or three others are out of place. Love never denounces, only ambition does that. There is
no such thing as " righteous "anger of justifiable killing”.(from one of hi speeches)
The Smritis and Puranas are productions of
people of limited intelligence
“The Smritis and Puranas are productions of people of limited intelligence and are full of fallacies, errors, and the feelings of class and malice. Only parts of them breathing broadness of spirit and love are acceptable; the rest are to be rejected. The Upanishads and the Gita are the true scriptures.”
( CW, Vol.6: Letter to Pramadadas Mitra from Almora, May 30, 1897, pp.393-394.)
Truths have been revealed to saints and seers
in accordance with their own
various levels of consciousness
“[There are] various levels and kinds of spiritual consciousness and of the superimposition or projection (adhyasa) of these inner states of being upon external nature creating, as it were, the universes experienced at different stages of spiritual awareness. It is thus that various truths have been revealed to saints and seers in accordance with their own various levels of consciousness and points of view - all of them equally valid, none of them revelations of absolute Truth, of which there can be no description and no revealer”
“Truth can be stated in a thousand different ways, yet each one
can be true.”
Truth is always uncomfortable
“Comfort” is no test of truth; on the contrary, truth is often far from being
“ Everything can be sacrificed for truth, but truth can't be sacrificed for anything.”
“ Truth is strengthening. Truth is purity, Truth is all knowledge. Truth must be strengthening, must be enlightening, must be invigorating.”
“Truth always triumphs, and this is true”. “Through truth everything is attained.”
Don’t believe anything blindly
“ Test everything, try everything, and then believe it, and if you
find it for the good of many, give it to all.”
Linguistic hurdles to realization
“This Sanskrit language is so intricate, the Sanskrit of the Vedas is so ancient, and the Sanskrit philology so perfect, that any amount of discussion can be carried on for ages in regard to the meaning of any word. If pandits takes it into their heads, they can render anybody’s prattle into correct Sanskrit by force of argument and quotation of texts and rules. These are the difficulties in our way of understanding the Upanishads”.( CW, Vol.3: The Vedanta in Its Application to Indian Life, p.233.)
“[Having] an idea of studying the grammar of the Vedas I began with all
earnestness to study Panini and the Mahabhashya, but to my surprise I found
that the best part of the Vedic grammar consists only of exceptions to the
rules. A rule is make and later there comes a statement to the effect, "This
rule will be an exception". So you see what an amount of liberty there is for
anybody to write anything, the only safeguard being the dictionary of Yaksa.
Still, in this you will find, for the most part, but a large number of
Synonyms”.(. CW, Vol.3: The Vedanta in All Its Phases, p.329.)
Even the faults of a guru must be told
“Our great commentators, Shankaracharya, Ramanujacharaya and
Madhvacharya… committed mistakes. Each one believed that the Upanishads are the sole authority, but thought that they preached one thing, one path only.
Thus Shankaracharya committed the mistake of supposing that the whole of
the Upanishads taught one thing, which was Advaitism and nothing else; and
wherever a passage bearing distinctly the Dvaita idea occurred, he twisted and
tortured the meaning to make it support his own theory. So with Ramanuja and
Madhvacharya when a pure Advaitic text occurred. It was perfectly true that
the Upanishads had one thing to teach, but that was taught as a going up from
one step to another”.( CW, Vol.3: Vedantism, p.439.)
“I am bound to tell you that [thinking that the three systems are contradictory] has been a mistake committed by not a few. We find that an Advaitist teacher keeps intact those texts which especially teach Advaitism and tries to interpret the dualistic or qualified non-dualistic texts into his own meaning. Similarly, we find dualistic teachers trying to read their dualistic meaning into Advaitic texts. Our gurus were great men and women; yet there is a saying, "Even the faults of a guru must be told." I am of the opinion that in this only they were mistaken. We need not go into text-torturing, we need not go into any sort of religious dishonesty, we need not go into any sort of grammatical twaddle, we not go about trying to put our own ideas into texts that were never meant for them; but the work is plain and becomes easier once you understand the marvelous doctrine of adhikarabheda…. The old idea of arundhati nyaya applies. To show someone the fine star arundhati, one takes the big and brilliant star nearest to it, upon which he or she is asked to fix his or her eyes first, and then it becomes quite easy to direct his or her sight to arundhati. This is the task before us; and to prove my idea I will have simply to show you the Upanishads, and you will see it”.( CW, Vol.3: The Vedanta, pp.397-398)
Shraddha may be performed mentally.
“Yet no Hindu who loves his or her religion, his or her country, his or her past and his or her great forebears should give up shraddha. The outward formalities and the feeding of brahmins are not essential. We have no brahmins in these days worthy of being fed on shraddha days. The brahmins fed ought not to be professional eaters, but brahmins who feed disciples gratis and teach them true Vedic doctrines. In these days, shraddha may be performed mentally”.( Sankari Prasad Basu, op. cit., p.297.)
There is a harmony to this apparently hopeless mass of confusion which we call our religion.
“ The Identification of Vedanta with Popular Custom in the Common Mind Is Based upon Juggling with the Meaning of the Vedas There is another difficulty: these scripture of ours have been very vast. We read in the Mahabhashya of Patanjali, that great philological work, that the Sama-Veda had one thousand branches. Where are they all? Nobody knows. So with each of the Vedas; the major portion of these books have disappeared, and it is only the minor portion that remains with us. They were all taken charge of by particular families; and either those families died out or were killed under foreign persecution, or somehow became extinct; and with them that branch of the learning of the Vedas they took charge of became extinct also. This fact we ought to remember, as it always forms the sheet-anchor in the hands of those who want to preach anything new or to defend anything, even against the Vedas.
Wherever in India there is a discussion between local custom and the Shrutis, and whenever it is pointed out that local custom is against the scriptures, the argument that is forwarded is that it is not, that the customs existed in the branch of the Shrutis which has become extinct, and so has been a recognized one. In the midst of all these varying methods of reading and commenting on our scriptures it is very difficult indeed to find the thread that runs through all of them; for we become convinced at once that there must be some common ground underlying all these varying divisions and subdivisions. There must be a harmony, a common plan, upon which all these little bits of buildings have been constructed, some basis common to this apparently hopeless mass of confusion which we call our religion. Otherwise, it could not have stood so long, it could not have endured so long”.( CW, Vol.3: Vedanta in Its Application to Indian Life, pp.232-233.)
There is a harmony to this apparently hopeless mass of confusion which we call our religion.
“Every man should take up his own ideal and endeavour to accomplish it. That is a surer way of progress than taking up other men's ideals, which he can never hope to accomplish.”
“ Unity in variety is the plan of nature, and the Hindu has recognised it. Every other religion lays down certain fixed dogmas, and tries to force society to adopt them. It places before society only one coat which must fit Jack and John and Henry, all alike. If it does not fit John or Henry, he must go without a coat to cover his body. The Hindus have discovered that the absolute can only be realised, or thought of, or stated, through the relative, and the images, crosses,
and crescents are simply so many symbols — so many pegs to hang the
spiritual ideas on. It is not that this help is necessary for every one, but those
that do not need it have no right to say that it is wrong. Nor is it compulsory in
He declared if truth is too much for intelligent people
let them go; the sooner the better
So he never believed in uttering things just to comfort others or for publicity or for getting patronizing pats of international media if it was far from truth. Unfortunately many modern day intellectuals [ so called ] of this country pander to this puerile publicity and they even do not mind getting into self loathing mode and bad mouthing about their own religion and mother land and invariably the lot belonging to this ilk are promoted both by the popular media and the political dispensations. He always declared “Tell the truth boldly, whether it hurts or not. Never pander to weakness. If truth is too much for intelligent people and sweeps them away, let them go; the sooner the better”.
His very name epitomizes the ideal youth of Bharath
When I embarked on reading Vivekanda I was imbued with Ananda [joy] but when I decided to write about the legacy, love, learned perception of this great soul I felt language was too inadequate. I even hesitated initially with the thinking how can a very small and ordinary person like me is going to embark on the task of writing about a person whose very name unfolds immense positive thoughts, abundant energy and power of concentration - a name that epitomizes the ideal youth of Bharat.
His love for this country was immense
Pride of ancestry of our great country
You need to have pride of ancestry to create hope for the future and every Indian must, if they are not already aware, at least after reading Swami Vivekanda’s immense pride in India and great hope in its future must work towards it. He has never failed to take pride in India’s ancestry especially her life –blood of spirituality nor has he failed to visualize her important role not only in India’s future but her contribution to the global happiness and well being. Many of his writing reflect these. Let me present just one such wonderful piece “ “This is the ancient land where wisdom made its home before it went into any other country, the same India whose influx of spirituality is represented, as it were, on the material plane, by rolling rivers like oceans, where the eternal Himalayas, rising tier above tier with their snow caps, look as it were into the very mysteries of heaven. Here is the same India whose soil has been trodden by the feet of the greatest sages that ever lived. Here first sprang up enquiries into the nature of man, and into the eternal world. Here first arose the doctrines of the immortality of the soul, the existence of a supervising God, an immanent God in nature and in man, and here the highest ideals of religion and philosophy have attained their culminating points. This is the land whence, like the tidal waves, spirituality and philosophy have again and again rushed out and deluged the world, and this is the land from whence once more such tides must proceed in order to bring life and vigor into the decaying races of mankind. Our ancestors were great. We must first recall that. We must learn the elements of our being, the blood that courses in our veins; we must have faith in that blood, and what it did in the past; and out of that faith, and consciousness of our past greatness, we must build an India yet greater than what she has been. The one common ground that we have is our sacred tradition, our religion. That is the only common ground, and upon that we shall have to build. The first plank in the making of a future India, the first step that is to be hewn out of that rock of ages, is the unification of religions. All of us have to be taught that we Hindus – dualist, qualified monists, or monists, Shaivas, Vaishnavas, or Pashupatas – to whatever denomination we may belong, have certain common ideas behind us, and that the time has come when for the well-being of ourselves, for the well-being of our race, we must give up all our little quarrels and differences. Our life-blood is spirituality. If it flows clear, if it flows strong and pure and vigorous, everything is right; political, social, any other material defects, even the poverty of the land, will be cured if that blood is pure” “in India, race difficulties, linguistic difficulties, social difficulties, national difficulties, all melt away before the unifying power of religion. We know that, to the Indian mind, there is nothing higher than religious ideals, that this is the keynote of Indian life”.
Pride of ancestry of our great country
“This is the motherland of philosophy, of spirituality, and of ethics, of
sweetness, gentleness, and love. These still exist, and my experience of the
world leads me to stand on firm ground and make the bold statement that India
is still the first and foremost of all the nations of the world in these respects”.
“ Each nation has its own peculiarity and individuality with which it is born. Each represents, as it were, one peculiar note in this harmony of nations, and this is its very life, its vitality. In it is the backbone, the foundation, and the bed-rock of the national life, and here in this blessed land, the foundation, the backbone, the life-centre is religion and religion alone. Let others talk of politics, of the glory of acquisition of immense wealth poured in by trade, of the power and spread of commercialism, of the glorious fountain of physical liberty; but these the Hindu mind does not understand and does not want to understand. Touch him on spirituality, on religion, on God, on the soul, on the Infinite, on spiritual freedom, and I assure you, the lowest peasant in India is better informed on these subjects than many a so-called philosopher in other lands. I have said, gentlemen, that we have yet something to teach to the world. This is the very reason, the raison d'être, that this nation has lived on, in spite of hundreds of years of persecution, in spite of nearly a thousand year of foreign rule and foreign oppression. This nation still lives; the raison d'être is it still holds to God, to the treasure-house of religion and spirituality. In this land are, still, religion and spirituality, the fountains which will have to overflow and flood the world to bring in new life and new vitality to the Western and other nations”
So, it is no wonder that
Ravindranath Tagore said ‘ read Vivekananda’
He once said on this saint “If you want to know India, read Vivekananda, in him everything is positive and nothing is negative”.
Gandhi “ My love to nation become 1000 fold after through reading of Vivekananda. ”.
Gandhi wrote Swami Vivekananda's writings need no introduction from anybody. They make their own irresistible appeal. Gandhi after his visit to Belur Math, requested by youth to comment on Vivekananda; once told “ My love to nation become 1000 fold after through reading of Vivekananda. ”.
Subhas on Vivekananda
He wrote on Swamiji “I cannot write about Vivekananda without going into raptures. Few indeed could comprehend or fathom him. Swamiji was a full-blooded masculine personality and a fighter to the core of his being. I can go on for hours and yet fail to do the slightest justice to that great man. A yogi of the higher spiritual level in direct communion with truth, who had for the time being consecrated his whole life to moral and spiritual uplift of India, That is how I would describe him. If he had been alive, I would have been at his feet. The foundation of the present freedom movement owes its origin to Swamiji’s message.”
Jawaharlal Nehru on Vivekananda
“Where can you find a man like him? Study what he wrote, and learn from his teachings, for if you do, you will gain immense strength. Take advantage of the fountain of wisdom, of Spirit, and of fire that flowed through Vivekananda.”
SWAMI VIVEKANANDA ON INDIA
"If there is any land on this earth that can lay claim to be the blessed Punya Bhumi … the land where humanity has attained its highest towards gentleness, towards generosity, towards purity, towards calmness, above all, the land of introspection and of spirituality—it is India.
His love for the country was not a parochial nationalism
But broad internationalism
His love for the country and admiration of her pride of ancestry and hope for the future was never a parochial nationalism, for, he had broad internationalism. Once during his tour to western world he wrote:
“Doubtless I do love India, but every day my sight grows clear”. “What is India
or England or America to us? We are the servant of that God ….called as Man”. There is one basis of well being, social, political or spiritual to know that I and my brother are one”. It does not mean that differences and variety do not exist but there is beneath these differences and varieties there lies oneness. He always said “no one method can suit all and no two people see the same world”.
“The one eternal religion is applied to the opinions of various minds and various races. There never was my religion or yours, my national religion or your
national religion; there never existed many religions, there is only the one. One
infinite religion existed all through eternity and will ever exist, and this religion
is expressing itself in various countries in various ways.”
“We must not look down with contempt on others. All of us are
going towards the same goal. The difference between the weakness and strength is one of degree; the difference between virtue and vice is one of degree; the difference between heaven and hell is one of degree; the difference between life and death is one of degree; all difference in this world are of degree, and not of kind, because oneness is the secret of everything.”
His heart longed for a united, much evolved harmonious and happy humanity.
But he never intended to declare that oriental philosophies are superior or a panacea for life, on the contrary he was a visionary who realized the necessity to create a synthesis of the two ways of looking at and living life in harmony with both, namely the OCCIDENTAL and the ORIENTAL. This is clear from what he said when he left India in June 1899 to sister Nivedita “Social life in the West is like a peal of laughter, but underneath, it is wail. In India it is sad and gloomy on the surface, but underneath are carelessness and merriment.” The West has much to learn from the East and the East from the West. His heart longed for a united, much evolved harmonious and happy humanity with perfect understanding of different philosophies and choosing the best for human emancipation , which is manifestation of divinity already in man”
He wished that Indians must play an important role
to contribute to the global welfare
H e not only vindicated the greatness of both Sanathan Dharma and India he also visualized in India an unmatched spiritual vision for humanity at large and wished that we Indians must play an important role to contribute to the global welfare and he also realized political freedom alone was inadequate for its regeneration.
He preached only what contributed the intrinsic value
of either the BODY, MIND and /or SPIRIT/SOUL
He imbibed from his great GURU SHRI RAMAKRISHNA PARAMAHAMSA and the many other great spiritual saints of this great land the fundamental essence of spiritual philosophy of this land and its religion that follows and promotes only anything and everything that has or can contribute to the intrinsic values of either the BODY, MIND and /or SPIRIT/SOUL at the individual level and to the happy, healthy, peaceful and prosperous coexistence of everyone in society at large with pride in their heart about their native religion, culture and heritage , which are essential aspects of primary identity which enthuses and energizes everyone to further contribute to human, humane and social development rather than allowing to be shamelessly subjugated, suppressed by alien systems at the expense of one’s own heritage especially when it does not offer anything intrinsically valuable to the body, mind and /or soul .
You read any of his speeches or interactions with any of his disciples you can see the thread of these basic ideological imprints.
He insisted on empowerment of women
He insisted on empowerment of women he said often that, “The idea of perfect womanhood is perfect independence.”
“The idea of perfect womanhood is perfect independence. Woman has suffered for eons (ages), and that has given her infinite patience and infinite perseverance. Women will work out their destinies—much better, too, than men can ever do for them. All the mischief to women has come because men undertook to shape the destiny of women”.
Also, few know that Vivekananda supported the women suffrage movement in the West, as also proposed training women in physical education and self defense. He implored some notable Hindu women like Sarala Ghoshal, the niece of Rabindranath to represent Indian womanhood on the world stage.
"The soul has neither sex, nor caste nor imperfection."
"The best thermometer to the progress of a nation is its treatment of its women."
" There is no chance for the welfare of the world unless the condition of women is improved."
“ The first manifestation of God is the hand that rocks
Greatness of women rishis
“The discoverers of [spiritual] laws, the rishis... we Hindus honor as perfected beings. I am glad to [say] that some of the very greatest of them were women”. (CW, Vol.1: Paper on Hinduism, p.7.)
“It was a female sage who first found the unity of God and laid down this doctrine in one of the first hymns of the Vedas. [Devi Sukta]” (SVW, Vol.2, Chapter 13: The Last Battle, p.269.)
“In the Vedic or Upanishadic age, Maitreyi, Gargi, and other ladies of revered memory have taken the place of rishis through their skill in discussing Brahman”. (CW, Vol.7: Conversation with Sharat Chandra Chakravarty at Belur, 1901, pp.214-215.)
His vision in the words of Sri Aurobindo
“The definite work he has left behind is quite incommensurate with our impression of his creative might and energy. We perceive his influence still working gigantically, we know not well where, in something, that is not yet formed, something leonine, grand, and intuitive, upheaving that has entered the soul of India.”
INTELLECT WITH COMPASSION
[FROM PRACTICAL VEDANTHA]
He was an intellectual giant par excellence with his laser sharp intellect and perfect perception he communicated lucidly to the analytical western mind the grand concepts of Sanathan Dharma but his emphasis was always the underlying compassion of the heart. In his work PRACTICAL VEDANTHA he says “Intellect is like limbs without the power of locomotion. It is only when feeling enters and gives them motion that they move and work on others.” Here I would like to point out that there are thousands of anecdotes available in print from many of his disciples and all those who have come into contact with him about his natural compassion. He often said, “When there is a conflict between the heart and the brain, let the heart be followed.” “Our supreme duty is to advance toward freedom—physical, mental, and spiritual—and help others to do so”.
“ It is feeling that is the life, the strength, the vitality, without which no amount of intellectual activity can reach God.”
“ Learning and wisdom are superfluities, the surface glitter merely, but it is the heart that is the seat of all power. It is not in the brain but in the heart that the Atman, possessed of knowledge, power, and activity, has its seat”.
“Let us make our hearts as big as an ocean, to go beyond all the trifles of the world and see it only as a picture. We can then enjoy the world without being in any way affected by it”.
“Work on with the intrepidity of a lion but at the same time with the tenderness of a flower.”
“ Follow the heart. A pure heart sees beyond the intellect; it gets
inspired; it knows things that reason can never know, and whenever there is conflict between the pure heart and the intellect, always side with the pure heart even if you think what your heart is doing is unreasonable.”
INTELLECT WITH COMPASSION
[FROM PRACTICAL VEDANTHA]
“ The history of world is of six men of faith, six men of deep pure
character. We need to have three things: the heart to feel, the brain to
conceive, the hand to work. Make yourself a dynamo. Feel, first for the world.
…… Ask yourself, does your mind react in hatred or jealousy? Good works
are continually are being undone by the tons of hatred and anger which are
being poured out on the world. If you are pure, if you are strong, you, one
man, are equal to the whole world”. CW VI 144-45
"It is only a few that understand the language of the brain, but
everyone understands the language that comes from the heart."
Religion of reason over religion of authority.
He felt that religion cannot escape the scrutiny of reason on any pretext, for he knew at fundamental level the human intellect can appreciate and perceive things only if they appeal to reason. In PRACTICAL VEDANTHA he states “religion must become broad enough. Everything it claims must be judged from the standpoint of reason. Why religions should claim that they are not bound to abide by the standpoint of reason, no one knows. If one does not take the standard of reason, there cannot be any true judgment, even in the case of religions” …….“with all its[reason’s] weakness there is some chance of my getting at truth through it; while, by the other means, there is no such hope at all.”…..
“ I am sure God will pardon a man who will use his reason and cannot believe, rather than a man who believes blindly instead of using his faculties He has given him. ……. We must reason; and when reason proves to us the truth of
these prophets and great men and about whom the ancient books speak in
every country, we shall believe in them. We shall believe in them when we
see such prophets among ourselves. We shall then find that they were not
peculiar men, but only illustrations of certain principals.” CW VI 12-13
“ That part of the Vedas which agrees with reason is theVedas, and
He never denied or dodged facts so declared boldly
“All religions are going beyond reason, but reason
is the only guide to get there.”
“We should, therefore, follow reason and also sympathise with those who do not come to any sort of belief, following reason. For it is better that mankind should become atheist by following reason than blindly believe in two hundred millions of gods on the authority of anybody. What we want is progress, development, and realization. No theories ever made men higher. No amount of books can help us to become purer. The only power is in realization, and that lies in ourselves and comes from thinking. Let men think. A clod of earth never thinks; but it remains only a lump of earth. The glory of man is that he is a thinking being. It is the nature of man to think and therein he differs from animals. I believe in reason and follow reason having seen enough of the evils of authority.” He was one who never denied or dodged facts and realty and therefore frankly accepted the necessity that in one’s spiritual journey there are many steps, they are steps, inevitable but not stops. That’s why he declared “Obey the scriptures until you are not strong enough to do without them” and also that “ All religions are going beyond reason, but reason is the only guide to get there.”
He believed in the individual’s infinite capacity.
He believed in the individual’s infinite capacity. Again in PRACTICAL VEDANTHA he states, “We are in reality that Infinite Being, and our
personalities represent so many channels through which this Infinite Reality is
manifesting Itself; and the whole mass of changes which we call evolution is
brought about by the soul trying to manifest more and more of its infinite energy. We cannot stop anywhere on this side of the Infinite; our power, and blessedness, and wisdom, cannot but grow into the Infinite. Infinite power and existence and blessedness are ours, and we have not to acquire them; they are our own, and we have only to manifest them.”
“As body, mind, or soul, you are a dream; you really are Being, Consciousness, Bliss (satchidananda). You are the God of this universe”.
“Our first duty is not to hate ourselves, because to advance we must have faith in ourselves first and then in God. Those who have no faith in themselves can never have faith in God”.
“Whatever you believe, that you will be. If you believe yourselves to be sages, sages you will be tomorrow. There is nothing to obstruct you”.
“ Stand up, be bold, be strong. Take the whole responsibility on your own shoulders, and know that you are the creator of your own destiny. All the strength and succor you want is within yourself.”
“We are responsible for what we are, and whatever we wish
ourselves to be, we have the power to make ourselves.”
Sanathan Dharma is not based on any authority
He declared elsewhere the essence of Sanathan Dharma that it is not based on any single or even multiple authority but it is a way of following certain laws of spiritual world “By the Vedas no books are meant. They mean the accumulated treasury of spiritual laws discovered by different persons in different times. Just as the law of gravitation existed before its discovery, and would exist if all humanity forgot it, so is it with the laws that govern the spiritual world”.
Religion is realization.
For him “That soul which is behind each mind and each body is called Pratyagâtman, the individual Atman, and that Soul which is behind the universe as its guide, ruler, and governor, is God”“It is realization, perception of God [which alone is religion].” “Religion is not in books, nor in theories, nor in dogmas, nor in talking, not even in reasoning. It is being and becoming.”
“ Pray all the time, read all the scriptures in the world, and worship all the gods there are ...but unless you realize the Truth, there is no freedom.”
“True religion is not talk, or doctrines, or theories, nor is it sectarianism. It is the relation between soul and God. Religion does not consist in erecting
temples, or building churches, or attending public worship. It is not to be found
in books, or in words, or in lectures, or in organizations. Religion consists in
realization. We must realize God, feel God, see God, talk to God. That is
Essence of the soul-your teacher
“Absolute Existence, absolute Knowledge, and absolute Blessedness are not qualities of the soul, but the essence; there is no difference between them and the soul. And the three are one; we see the one thing in three different aspects. They are beyond all relative knowledge. That eternal knowledge of the Self percolating through the brain of man becomes his intuition, reason, and so on. Its manifestation varies according to the medium through which it shines. As soul, there is no difference between man and the lowest animal, only the latter's brain is less developed and the manifestation through it which we call instinct is very dull. In a man the brain is much finer, so the manifestation is much clearer, and in the highest man it becomes entirely clear. So with existence; the existence which we know, the limited sphere of existence, is simply a reflection of that real existence which is the nature of the soul. So with bliss; that which we call love or attraction is but the rejection of the eternal blessedness of the Self.” “You have to grow from the inside out. None can teach you, none can make you spiritual. There is no other teacher but your own soul.”
He viewed every being as divine with infinite capacities.
“Religion is the manifestation of the divinity already in man”.
With manifestation comes limitation, but the unmanifested, the essential nature of the soul, is unlimited; to that blessedness there is no limit.” It is manifestation and objectification that limits us and everything. When we move from objectification to manifestation to ultimate realization we become the Infinite. He declared this in his usual style, “God has become man, man will become god again.” “To know God is to become God.” The very purpose of religion he felt was to manifest this divinity he declared “Religion is the manifestation of the divinity already in man”. “Each soul is potentially divine. The Goal is to manifest this divinity, by controlling nature, external and internal. Do this either by work, or worship, or psychic control, or philosophy – by one, or more, or all of these – and be free.
This is the whole of religion. Doctrines, or dogmas, or rituals, or books, or
temples, or forms, are but secondary details.” “The moment I have realized God sitting in the temple of every human body, the moment I stand in reverence before every human being and see God in him - that moment I am free from bondage, everything that binds vanishes, and I am free.” He was at the same time very clear about how and when a man becomes god when he so graphically declared that “Man is an infinite circle, whose circumference is nowhere, but the centre is located on one spot; and God is an in finite circle whose circumference is nowhere, but whose centre is everywhere.”
“ Virtue is that which tends to our improvement, and vice is to our
degeneration. Man is made of three qualities – brutal, human and godly. That
which tends to increase the divinity in you is virtue, and that which tends to
increase brutality in you is vice. You must kill the brutal nature and become
human, that is, loving and charitable. You must transcend that too and become
pure bliss, Sachchidanananda, fire without burning, wonderfully loving, but
without the weakness of human love, without the feeling of misery.” CW VI
First, believe in this world - that there is meaning
Through his honesty, humility, clarity and candid disposition of calling a spade a spade and accepting facts he demonstrated the inevitable process involved in the path of realization his famous saying stands to vindicate this,
“ When I Asked God for Strength
He Gave Me Difficult Situations to Face
When I Asked God for Brain & Brown
He Gave Me Puzzles in Life to Solve
When I Asked God for Happiness
He Showed Me Some Unhappy People
When I Asked God for Wealth
He Showed Me How to Work Hard
When I Asked God for Favors
He Showed Me Opportunities to Work Hard
When I Asked God for Peace
He Showed Me How to Help Others
God Gave Me Nothing I Wanted
He Gave Me Everything I Needed”
I said he accepted facts as they are without passing any judgment based on any pre conditioning and that’s why he neither denied nor defied the importance of anything. “First, believe in this world - that there is meaning behind everything. Everything in the world is good, is holy and beautiful. If you see something evil, think that you do not understand it in the right light. Throw the burden on yourselves!”
“Education is the manifestation of the perfection already in man.”
He realized every manifested aspect of divinity has its place in the scheme of things. This is precisely the reason why he insisted on the importance of overall development of the individual and insisted that real “Education is the manifestation of the perfection already in man.” “The goal of mankind is knowledge... now this knowledge is inherent in man. No knowledge
comes from outside: it is all inside. What we say a man 'knows', should, in strict psychological language, be what he 'discovers' or 'unveils'; what man 'learns' is really what he discovers by taking the cover off his own soul, which is a mine of infinite knowledge.” He declared “ My child, 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 he wanted education “by which character is formed, strength of mind is increased, the intellect is expanded, and by which one can stand on one's own feet”.
“The education which does not help the common mass of people to equip themselves for the struggle for life, which does not bring out strength of character, a spirit of philanthropy, and the courage of a lion – is it worth the name?”
“Education is not the amount of information that is put into your brain
and runs riot there, undigested all your life. We must have life-building,
man-making, character-making, assimilation of ideas.”
“ The ideal of all education, all training, should be real man-making
The end and aim of all training is to make the man grow. The man who influences, who throws his magic, as it were, upon his fellow-beings, is a dynamo of power, and when that man is ready, he can do anything and everything he likes; that personality put upon anything will make it work.”
“Education is the manifestation of the perfection already in man.”
“ Compare the great teachers of religion with the great philosophers. The philosophers scarcely influenced anybody's inner man, and yet they wrote most marvelous books. The religious teachers, on the other hand, moved countries in their lifetime. The diff erence was made by personality. In the philosopher, it is a faint personality that influences; in the great prophets it is temendous. In the
former we touch the intellect, in the latter we touch life. In the one case, it is
simply a chemical process, put ting certain chemical ingredients together,
which may gradually, combine and under proper circumstances bring out a
flash of light or may fail. In the other, it is like a torch that goes round
quickly, lighting others.”
“ The science of Yoga claims that it has discovered the laws, which develop this personality, and by proper attention to those laws and methods, each one can grow and strengthen his personality. This is one of the great practical things and this is the secret of all education. This has a universal application.”
He saw the necessity for syncretism or synthesis where ordinary mortals created fences and saw them as differences.
He never missed to see the necessity for syncretism or synthesis where ordinary mortals created fences and saw them as differences. He declared “In Buddha we had the great, universal heart and infinite patience, making religion practical and bringing it to everyone’s door. In Shankaracharya we saw tremendous intellectual power, throwing the scorching light of reason upon everything. We want today that bright sun of intellectuality joined with the heart of Buddha, the wonderful infinite heart of love and mercy. This union will give us the highest philosophy”
Variety is the very soul of life but
beneath the variety there lies oneness
“Variety is the very soul of life. When it dies out entirely, creation will die. When this variation in thought is kept up, we must exist; and we need not quarrel because of that variety. Your way is very good for you, but not for me. My way is good for me, but not for you. My way is called in Sanskrit my ishta. Mind you, we have no quarrel with any religion in the world. We each have our ishta. But when we see people coming and saying, "This is the only way" and trying to force it on us in India, we have a word to say: we laugh at them. For such people who want to destroy their brothers and sisters because they seem to follow a different path towards God - for them to talk of love is absurd. Their love does not count for much. How can they preach love who cannot bear another person to follow a path different from their own? If that is love, what is hatred? We have no quarrel with any religion in the world, whether it teaches people to worship Christ, Buddha or Muhammad, or any other prophet. "Welcome, my brother, my sister", the Hindu says; "I am going to help you; but you must allow me to follow my way, too. That is my ishta. Your way is very good, no doubt; but it may be dangerous for me. My own experience tells me what food is good for me, and no army of doctors can tell me that. So I know from my own experience what path is the best for me." That is the goal, the ishta; and, therefore, we say that if a temple or a symbol or an image helps you to realize the divinity within, you are welcome to it. Have two hundred images if you like. If certain forms and formularies help you to realize the divine, God speed you; have, by all means, whatever forms and whatever temples and whatever ceremonies you want to bring you nearer to God; but do not quarrel about them; the moment you quarrel, you are not going Godwards; you are going backward towards the brutes”. (CW, Vol.3: Vedantism, pp.131-132.)
Variety is the very soul of life but
beneath the variety there lies oneness
“The more sides you can develop, the more souls you have and you can see the universe through all souls - through the bhakta (devotee), and the jnani (philosopher). Determine your own nature and stick to it. Nishtha (devotion to the ideal) is the only method for the beginner; but with devotion and sincerity it will lead to all. Churches, doctrines, forms are the hedges to protect the tender plant; but they must later be broken down so that the plant may become a tree. So the various religions, Bibles, Vedas, dogmas - all are must tubs for
the little plants; but it must get out of the tub”. (CW, Vol.7: Inspired Talks, June 23, 1895, p.6)
“ Unity in variety is the plan of creation. However men and women may vary individually, there is unity in the background. The different individual
characters and classes of men and women are natural variations in creation.
Hence, we ought not to judge them by the same standard or put the same ideal
before them. Such a course creates only an unnatural struggle, and the result is
that man begins to hate himself and is hindered from becoming religious and
good. Our duty is to encourage every one in his struggle to live up to his own
highest ideal, and strive at the same time to make the ideal as near as possible
to the truth.”
Variety is the very soul of life but
beneath the variety there lies oneness
“In the Hindu system of morality we find that this fact has been recognised from very ancient times; and in their scriptures and books on ethics different rules are laid down for the different classes of men — the householder, the Sannyâsin (the man who has renounced the world), and the student.
The life of every individual, according to the Hindu scriptures, has its peculiar
duties apart from what belongs in common to universal humanity. The Hindu
begins life as a student; then he marries and becomes a householder; in old age
he retires; and lastly he gives up the world and becomes a Sannyasin. To each
of these stages of life certain duties are attached. No one of these stages is
intrinsically superior to another. The life of the married man is quite as great as
that of the celibate who has devoted himself to religious work. The scavenger
in the street is quite as great and glorious as the king on his throne. Take him
off his throne, make him do the work of the scavenger, and see how he fares.
Take up the scavenger and see how he will rule. It is useless to say that the man
who lives out of the world is a greater man than he who lives in the world; it is
much more difficult to live in the world and worship God than to give it up and
live a free and easy life. The four stages of life in India have in later times been
reduced to two — that of the householder and of the monk. The householder
marries and carries on his duties as a citizen, and the duty of the other is to
devote his energies wholly to religion, to preach and to worship God. “
Difference interpretation of Vedas should be allowed
“The Interpretation of the Vedas by Various Sects Should be Allowed
The Vedas are the common source of Hinduism in all its varied stages, as also of
Buddhism and every other religious belief in India. The seeds of the
multifarious growth of Indian thought on religion lie buried in the Vedas.
Buddhism and the rest of India’s religious thought are the outcome of the
unfolding and expansion of those seeds, and modern Hinduism also is only their
developed and matured form. With the expansion or the contraction of society,
those seeds lie more or less expanded at one place or more or less contracted
at another”.( CW, Vol.4: The Paris Congress of the History of Religion, p.425.)
“There are certain principles in which, I think, we - whether Vaishnavas, Shaktas or Ganapatyas, whether we belong to the ancient Vedantists or the modern ones, whether belonging to the old, rigid sects or the modern reformed ones - are all one; and whoever calls him or herself a Hindu believes in those principles. Of course, there is a difference in the interpretation, in the explanation of those principles, and that difference should be there, and it should be allowed, for our standard is not to bind everyone down to our position. It would be a sin to force everyone to work out our own interpretation of things, and to live by our methods”.( CW, Vol.3: The Common Bases of Hinduism, p.372)
All Religions and All Methods of Work and Worship
Lead Us to One and the Same Goal.
“[The] peculiar idea of the Vedanta is that we must allow this infinite variation in religious thought and not try to bring everybody to the same opinion, because the goal is the same”.( . CW, Vol.1: The Spirit and Influence of Vedanta, p.390.)
“Every sect of every religion presents only one ideal of its own to humankind, but the eternal Vedantic religion opens to humankind an infinite number of doors for ingress into the inner shrine of divinity and places before humanity an almost inexhaustible array of ideals, there being in each of them a
manifestation of the eternal One. With the kindest solicitude the Vedanta
points out to aspiring men and women the numerous roads, hewn out of the solid
rock of the realities of human life by the glorious sons and daughters - or
human manifestations of God - in the past and in the present, and stands with
arms outstretched to welcome all - to welcome even those that are yet to be -
to that Home of Truth and that Ocean of Bliss wherein the human soul,
liberated from the net of maya, may transport itself with perfect freedom and
with eternal joy”.( CW, Vol.3: Bhakti-Yoga: The Chosen Ideal, p.63.)
“Shankara showed, too, that as a humanity can only travel slowly on the upward road, all the varied presentations are needed to suit its varying capacity”.( CW, Vol.8: Discourses on Jnana-Yoga II, p.6.)
In the west too great scholars like RALPH W.EMERSON have declared " God is UNITY but always works in VARIETY"-
The varieties of religious belief are an advantage
He was one who never denounced any religion, of course he did object to certain practices of religions, he felt the more the number of religions the better it was, in that sense he was a pioneer who appreciated NRMs [New Religious Movements] He said , “The varieties of religious belief are an advantage, since all faiths are good, so far as they encourage us to lead a religious life. The more sects there are, the more opportunities there are for making a successful appeal to the divine instinct in all of us.”
“First, believe in the world—that there is meaning behind everything.”
The first great GURU of motivational skills and positive attitudes.
He was in a way the first great GURU of motivational skills and positive attitudes. He always said “Seek for the highest, aim at the highest, and you shall reach the highest”
He emphasized the importance of attitude. “ It is our own mental attitude, which makes the world what it is for us. Our thoughts make things beautiful, our thoughts make things ugly. The whole world is in our own minds. Learn to see things in the proper light.” “All differences in this world are of degree, and not of kind, because oneness is the secret of everything”
Love for love’s sake
He was candid in declaring love for love’s sake “All love is expansion, all selfishness is contraction. Love is therefore the only law of life. He who loves lives, he who is selfish is dying. Therefore, love for love's sake, because it is law of life, just as you breathe to live.”
Love is always mutual and reflective.
“Love is always mutual and reflective. You may hate me, and if I want to love you, you repulse me. But if I persist, in a month or a year you are bound to love me. It is a well-known psychological phenomenon”.
“ The more we grow in love and virtue and holiness, the more we see love and virtue and holiness outside. All condemnation of others really condemns ourselves. Adjust the microcosm (which is in your power to do) and the macrocosm will adjust itself for you. It is like the hydrostatic paradox, one drop of water can balance the universe.”
“What the world wants is character. The world is in need of those whose life is one burning love--selfless. That love will make every word tell like a
thunderbolt. Awake, awake, great souls! The world is burning in misery. Can
you sleep?Work unto death--I am with you, and when I am gone, my spirit will
work with you. This life comes and goes--wealth, fame, enjoyments are only of
a few days. It is better, far better, to die on the field of duty, preaching the
"Love opens the most impossible gates; love is the gate to all the
secrets of the universe. Every step that has been really gained in the
world has been gained by love."
Impossibility is an inebriated insect to be ejected
Impossibility for him was an inebriated insect to be ejected he declared “Never think there is anything impossible for the soul. It is the greatest heresy to think so. If there is sin, this is the only sin - to say that you are weak, or others are weak”. He said always “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.”
Feel like Christ and you will be a Christ; feel like Buddha and you will be a Buddha. It is feeling that is the life, the strength, the vitality, without which no amount of intellectual activity can reach God.
Fear is death, sin and hell.
“Fear is death, fear is sin, fear is hell, fear is unrighteousness, and fear is wrong life. All the negative thoughts and ideas that are in the world have proceeded from this evil spirit of fear”.
“Stand up, be bold, be strong. Take the whole responsibility on your own shoulders, and know that you are the creator of your own destiny. All the strength and succor you want is within yourselves. Therefore, make your own future”.
“Everything can be sacrificed for truth, but truth cannot be sacrificed for anything”.
“ The moment you fear, you are nobody. It is fear that is the greatest cause of misery in the world. It is fear that is the greatest of all superstitions. It is fear
that is the cause of our woes, and it is fearlessness that brings heaven in a
The Only Religion That Ought to Be
Taught Is the Religions of Fearlessness
“The Only Religion That Ought to Be Taught Is the Religions of Fearlessness If you read the Vedas you will find this word always repeated - fearlessness; fear nothing. Fear is a sign of weakness. People must go about their duties without taking notice of the sneers and ridicule of the world”. (CW, Vol.1: Karma-Yoga, Chapter 2: Each Is Great in His Own Place, p.47)
“ Be brave! Be strong! Be fearless! Once you have taken up the spiritual life, fight as long as there is any life in you. Even though you know you are going to be killed, fight till you “are killed.” Don’t die of fright. Die fighting. Don’t go down till you are knocked down.”
“Be not afraid, for all great power throughout the history of humanity has been with the people. From out of their ranks have come all the greatest geniuses of the world, and history can only repeat itself. Be not afraid of anything. You will do marvelous work.”
“ Be strong! … You talk of ghosts and devils. We are the living devils. The sign of life is strength and growth. The sign of death is weakness. Whatever is weak, avoid! It is death. If it is strength, go down into hell and get hold of it! There is salvation only for the brave. "None but the brave deserves the fair." None but the bravest deserves salvation.”
“ Fear is death, fear is sin, fear is hell, fear is unrighteousness, fear is wrong life. All the negative thoughts and ideas that are in the world have proceeded from this evil spirit of fear”.
“Why are people so afraid? The answer is that they have made themselves helpless and dependent on others. We are so lazy, we do not want to do anything ourselves. We want a Personal God, a Savior or a Prophet to do
everything for us”.
Take nutritious food
“If there is no strength in body and mind, the Atman cannot be realized. First you have to build the body by good nutritious food—then only will the mind be strong.”
Reject that, which makes you weak physically,
intellectually, and spiritually
“If we sit down and lament over the imperfection of our bodies and minds, we profit nothing; it is the heroic endeavor to subdue adverse circumstances
that carries our spirit upwards.Anything that makes you weak physically, intellectually, and spiritually, reject as poison; there is no life in it; it cannot be true.”
The infinite library of the universe is in our own mind
“All knowledge that the world has ever received comes from the
mind; the infinite library of the universe is in our own mind. All power is within you. You can do anything and everything. No power in the universe can withhold from any one anything he really deserves”.
“Faith in one's own Self... is the basis of Vedanta.” (CW, Vol.4: The Education That India Needs, p.481)
Face criticism and ridicule
He also insisted not to get stifled by any criticism or opposition, for he declared very clearly that “Each work has to pass through these stages—ridicule, opposition, and then acceptance. Those who think ahead of their time are sure to be misunderstood.”
Life is Beautiful
“First, believe in this world - that there is meaning behind everything. Everything in the world is good, is holy and beautiful. If you see something evil, think that you do not understand it in the right light. Throw the burden on yourselves!”
No hero worship or idolization
He did not approve of hero worship or idolization.
He made it very clear “My name should not be made prominent. It is my ideas that I want to see realized. The disciples of all the prophets have always inextricably mixed up the ideas of the Master with person, and at last killed the ideas for the person. The disciples of Sri Ramakrishna must guard against doing the same thing. Work for the idea, not the person”.
Absolute equality can never be in this world.
Absolute equality, that which means a perfect balance of all the
struggling forces in all the planes, can never be in this world.
Before you attain that state, the world will have become quite
unfit for any kind of life, and no one will be there. We find,
therefore, that all these ideas of the millennium and of absolute
equality not only are impossible but also that, if we try to carry
them out, they will lead us surely enough to the day of destruction.
Stick to your own convictions
“Let people say whatever they like stick to your own convictions, and
rest assured, the world will be at your feet. They say, ‘Have faith in
this fellow or that fellow,’ but I say, ‘Have faith in yourself first,’
that’s the way. Have faith in yourself. All power is in you, be conscious and bring it out. Say, ‘I can do everything.’ Even the poison of a snake is powerless, if you can firmly deny it.”
“Above all, beware of compromises. Hold on to your own principles in weal or woe and never adjust them to others’ “fads” through the greed of getting
supporters. Your Atman is the support of the universe—whose support do you
stand in need of?”
"Never mind failures, they are quite natural, they are the beauty of life, these failures. What would life be without them? I never heard a cow tell a lie, but it is only a cow-never a man. So never mind these failures, these little backslidings; hold on to the ideal a thousand times and if you fail a thousand times make the attempt once more."
How true it is! Thomas Alva Edison, one of the greatest scientists,
who made a series of inventions, had great conviction in his capacity.
He had made over 1000 experiments before he succeeded in inventing
the electric bulb. Though he was born in a poor American family and
was dull in his studies, nothing could obstruct his path or prevent him
from great achievements because of his firm faith in his inner
"Great convictions are the mothers of great deeds."
Help the weaker
“The only way of getting our divine nature manifested is by helping
others to do the same. If there is inequality in nature, still there must
be equal chance for all or if greater for some and for some
less.The weaker should be given more chance than the
“Him I call a Mahatma ("great soul") whose heart bleeds for the poor, otherwise he is a Duratma ("wicked soul"). Let us unite our wills in continued prayer for their good”
“I, for one, thoroughly believe that no power in the universe can withhold from anyone anything they really deserve.”
“ Let each one of us pray day and night for the downtrodden millions, who are held fast by poverty, priestcraft, and tyranny. Pray day and night for them. I
care more to preach religion to them than to the high and the rich. I am no
metaphysician, no philosopher, nay, no saint. But I am poor and I love the
Friendship with all
“We must have friendship for all; we must be merciful toward those that are in misery; when people are happy, we ought to be happy; and to the wicked we must be indifferent. These attitudes will make the mind peaceful.”
Practice the art of giving
“In the world take always the position of the giver. Give everything and look for no return. Give love, give help, give service, give any little thing you can, but keep out barter. Make no conditions and none will be imposed. Let us give out of our own bounty, just as God gives to us.”
“ Perfection does not come from belief or faith. Talk does not count for anything. Parrots can do that. Perfection comes through selfless work.”
“ Please everyone without becoming a hypocrite or a coward.”
“ Renunciation is the very basis of our true life. Every moment of goodness and real life that we enjoy is when we do not think of ourselves.”
“ Renounce and give up. What did Christ say? "He that loseth his life for my sake shall find it." Again and again did he preach renunciation as the only way to perfection. There comes a time when the mind awakes from this long and
dreary dream—the child gives up its play and wants to go back to its mother”.
“ Renunciation is the background of all religious thought wherever it be, and you will always find that as this idea of renunciation lessens, the more will the senses creep into the field of religion, and spirituality will decrease in the same ratio”.
“ The great secret of true success, of true happiness, is this: the man or woman who asks for no return, the perfectly unselfish person, is the most successful.”
Do not destroy.
“Iconoclastic reformers do no good to the world. Break not, pull not anything down, but build. Help, if you can; if you cannot, fold your hands and stand by and see things go on. Do not injure, if you cannot render help. Say not a word against any man’s convictions so far as they are sincere”.
“ Let the mind be cheerful but calm. Never let it run into excesses, because every excess will be followed by a reaction.”
God's book is unfinished and an infinite number
of pages remain yet to be unfolded
“Is God's book finished? Or is it still a continuous revelation going on? It is a marvelous book these spiritual revelations of the world. The Bible, the Vedas, the Koran, and all other sacred books are but so many pages; and an infinite number of pages remain yet to be unfolded. I would leave it open for all of them. We stand in the present, but open ourselves to the infinite future. We take in all that has been in the past, enjoy the light of the present, and open every window of the heart for all that will come in the future”
[from CW, Vol.2: The Way to Realization of a Universal Religion, p.374]
The Vedas Are Impersonal
The Vedas Deal Almost Entirely with Philosophy
a] “None knows by whom the Vedas were written, they are so ancient”
[ CW, Vol.9: The Gita-I, p.277]
b] “The mass of writings called the Vedas is not the utterance of persons.” (CW, Vol.3: Vedantism, p.118.)
c] “The Upanishads do not reveal the life of any teacher, but simply teach principles”. (CW, Vol.1: The Gita I, p.446)
d] “The Upanishads contain very little history of the doings of any man, but nearly all other scriptures are largely personal histories. The Vedas deal almost entirely with philosophy. Religion without philosophy runs into superstition; philosophy without religion becomes dry
atheism”. (CW, Vol.7: Inspired Talks, July 7, 1895, p.36)
e] “If you tell [the orthodox Hindus who defend the Vedas] that the Vedas must have been pronounced by man first, [they will simply laugh]. You never heard of any [man uttering them for the first time]. Take Buddha's words. [There is a tradition that he lived and spoke these words] many times before. If the Christian stands up and says, "My religion is a historical religion and
therefore yours is wrong and ours is true", the mimamsaka [orthodox Hindu] replies, "Yours being historical, you confess that a man invented it nineteen hundred years ago. That which is true must be infinite and eternal. That is the one test of truth. It never decays, it is always the same. You confess your religion was created by such-and-such a man. The Vedas were not. By no prophets or anything.... Only infinite words; infinite by their very nature, from which the whole universe comes and goes." In the abstract, it is perfectly correct”. (CW, Vol.1: The Gita I, pp.448-449)
The Vedas Are Impersonal
The Vedas Deal Almost Entirely with Philosophy
f] “Our religion preaches an impersonal personal God. It preaches any amount of impersonal laws plus any amount of personality, but the very fountainhead of our religion is the Shrutis, the Vedas, which are perfectly impersonal; the persons all come in the Smritis and Puranas – the great avataras, the incarnations of God, prophets, and so forth. And this ought also to be observed that, except our religion, every other religion in the world depends upon the life or lives of some personal founder or founders. Christianity is built upon the life of Jesus Christ, Islam upon Muhammad, Buddhism upon Buddha, Jainism upon the Jinas, and so on. It naturally follows that there must be in all these religions a good deal of fight about what they call the historical evidences of these great personalities. If at any time the historical evidences about the existence of these personages in ancient times becomes weak, the whole building of the religion tumbles down and is broken to pieces. We Hindus escaped this fate because our religion is not based upon persons, but upon principles.” (CW, Vol.3: The Sages of India, p.249)
Priority is for principles and not persons
“Religions divide themselves equally into three parts. There is the first part, consisting of philosophy, the essence, the principles of every religion. These principles find expression in mythology - the lives of saints or heroes, demigods, or gods, or divine beings; and the whole idea of this mythology is that of power. And in the lower class of mythologies - the primitive – the expression of this power is in the muscles; their heroes are strong, gigantic. One hero conquers
the whole world. As man advances, he must find expression for his energy higher than in the muscles; so his heroes also find expression in something higher. The higher mythologies have heroes who are gigantic moral men. Their strength is manifested in becoming moral and pure. They can stand alone, they can beat back the surging tide of selfishness and immorality. The third portion of all religions is symbolism, which you call ceremonials and forms. Even the expression through mythology, the lives of heroes, is not sufficient for all. There are minds still lower. Like children they must have their kindergarten of religion, and these symbologies are evolved - concrete examples which they can handle and grasp and understand, which they can see and feel as material somethings. So, in every religion you find there are the three stages: philosophy, mythology, and ceremonial.”
Do not lose sight of principles
“There is one advantage that can be pleaded for the Vedanta: that, in India, fortunately, these three stages have been sharply defined. In other religions the principles are so interwoven with the mythology that it is very hard to distinguish one from the other. The mythology stands supreme, swallowing up the principles; and in the course of centuries the principles are lost sight of. The explanation, the illustration of the principle, swallows up the principle and the people see only the explanation, the prophet, the preacher, while the principles have gone out of existence almost - so much so that today, if a man dares to preach the principles of Christianity apart from Christ, they will try to attack him and think he is wrong and dealing blows at Christianity. In the same way, if a man wants to preach the principles of Islam, Muslims will think the same; because concrete ideas, the lives of great men and prophets, have entirely overshadowed the principles. In Vedanta the chief advantage is that it was not the work of one single man; and therefore, naturally, unlike Buddhism, or Christianity, or Islam, the prophet or teacher did not entirely swallow up or overshadow the principles. The principles live; and the prophets, as it were, form a secondary group, unknown to Vedanta. The Upanishads speak of no particular prophet, but they speak of prophets and prophetesses. The old Hebrews had something of that idea; yet we find Moses occupying most of the space of the Hebrew literature. Of course, I do not mean that it is bad that these prophets should take hold of a nation; but it certainly is very injurious if the
whole field of principles is lost sight of.” (CW, Vol.6: The Methods and Purpose of Religion, pp.6-7.)
“ Live for an ideal, and that one ideal alone. Let it be so great, so strong, that there may be nothing else left in the mind; no place for anything else, no time for anything else”.
What is idolatry?
“Worship of society and popular opinions is idolatry. The soul has no sex, no country, no place, no time”.
No single personality or teacher can claim to
have created the Vedas.
“Every one of the great religions in the world, excepting our own [Vedanta], is built upon such historical characters; but ours rests upon principles. There is no man or woman who can claim to have created the Vedas. They are the embodiment of eternal principles; sages discovered them; and now and then the names of these sages are mentioned - just their names; we do not even know who or what they were. In many cases we do not know who their fathers were, and in almost every case we do not know when and where they were born. But what cared they, these sages, for their names? They were the preachers of principles; and they themselves, so far as they went, tried to become illustrations of the principles they preached. At the same time, just as our God is an impersonal and yet a personal God, so is our religion a most intensely personal one - a religion based upon principles and yet with an infinite scope for the play of persons; for what religion gives you more incarnations, more prophets and seers, and still waits for infinitely more?”
Incarnations are infinite
“The Bhagavata says that incarnations are infinite, leaving ample scope for as many as you like to come. Therefore, if any one or more of these persons in India's religious history, any one or more of these incarnations, and any one or more of our prophets are proved not to have been historical, it does not injure our religion at all; even then it remains as firm as ever, because it is based on principles and not upon persons. It is in vain that we try to gather all the peoples of the world around a single personality. It is difficult to make them gather together even round eternal and universal principles. If it ever becomes possible to bring the largest portion of humanity to one way of thinking in regard to religion, mark you, it must always be through principles and not through persons. Yet, as I have said, our religion has ample scope for the authority and influence of persons. There is that most wonderful theory of ishta which gives you the fullest and the freest choice possible among these great religious personalities. You may take up any one of the prophets or teachers as your guide and the object of your special adoration; you are even allowed to think that he whom you have chosen is the greatest of the prophets, greatest of all the avatars - there is no harm in that - but you must keep to a firm
background of eternally true principles.” (CW, Vol.3: The Mission of the Vedanta, pp.183-184)
Vedas are a great body of eternal truth and
more is to come
“If Sri Krishna and Rama and all the saints are proved to be mythical characters, the Vedas still remain, not as a source of blind and imperative faith, not as a rigid and inflexible spiritual possession, but as a great body of eternal truths, of which more and more is to come in the way of revelation by the enlightened ones.” (Life, Vol.2: Chapter 74: In Madras and Hyderabad, p.237)
The Vedas are not inspired, but expired
“Vedanta finds veneration for some particular person... difficult to uphold. those of you who are students of Vedanta (and by Vedanta is always meant the Upanishads) know that this is the only religion that does not cling to any person. No one man or woman has ever become the object of worship among the Vedantins. It cannot be. A man is no more worthy of worship than any bird, any worm. We are all brothers. The difference is only in degree. I am exactly the same as the lowest worm. You see how very little room there is in Vedanta for any man to stand ahead of us and for us to go and worship him - he is dragging us on and we being saved by him. Vedanta does not give you that. No book, no man to worship, nothing.” (CW, Vol.8: Is Vedanta the Future Religion? p.124)
“We may remark that, as this is the unique position in
India, our claim is that Vedanta only can be the universal religion, that it is already the existing universal religion in the world, because it teaches principles and not persons. No religion built upon a person can be taken up as a type by all the races of mankind. Now, the Vedantic religion does not require any such personal sanction. Its sanction is the eternal nature of man”. (CW, Vol.3: The Sages of India, pp.250-251.)
“The Vedas are not inspired, but expired; not that they came from anywhere outside, but they are the eternal laws living in every soul. The Vedas are in the soul of the ant, in the soul of the god. The ant has only to evolve and get the body of a sage or rishi, and the Vedas will come out, eternal laws expressing themselves.” (CW, Vol.3: The Vedanta, pp.409-410.)
“You must always remember that in all other scriptures inspiration is quoted as their authority, but this inspiration is limited to a very few persons, and through them the truth came to the masses - and we all have to obey them. Truth came to Jesus of Nazareth and we must all obey him. But the truth came to the rishis of India - the mantra-drashtas, the seers of thought - and will come to all rishis in the future, not to talkers, not to book-swallowers, not to scholars, not to philologists, but to seers of thought.” (CW, Vol.3: The Work Before Us, p.283)
Anyone can attain sainthood or rishihood
“The rishi-state is not limited by time or by place, by sex or race. Vatsayana boldly declared that this rishihood is the common property of the descendants of the sage, of the Aryan, of the non-Aryan, of even the Mlechcha. This is the sageship of the Vedas; and constantly we ought to remember this ideal of religion in India, which I wish other nations of the world would also remember and learn, so that there may be less fight and less quarrel”. (CW, Vol.3: The Sages of India, p.253)
“Who are the rishis? Vatsayana says, "He who has attained through proper means the direct realization of dharma, he alone can be a rishi, even if he is a Mlechcha by birth." Thus it is that in ancient times, Vashishta, born of an illegitimate union; Vyasa, the son of a fisherwoman; Narada, the son of a maidservant of uncertain parentage, and many others of like nature attained to rishihood”. (CW, Vol.3: The Religion We Are Born In, pp.456-457)
The hoax called "Aryan Invasion Theory
“A gentle, yet clear brushing off of the cobwebs of the so-called Aryan theory and all its vicious corollaries is... absolutely necessary, especially for the South [of India]; and a proper self-respect created by a knowledge of the past grandeurs of the ancestors of the Aryan race – the great Tamils”. (CW, Vol.4: Aryans and Tamilians, p.301.)
“[There has been] speculation whether there was a distinct, separate race called the Aryas living in Central Asia to the Baltic. [Also as to] so-called types - the "blonde" and the "brunette". [But] the races were always mixed. Coming to practical common sense from so-called historical imagination: the Aryas in their oldest records were in the land between Turkistan and the Punjab and Northwest Tibet.” (CW, Vol.4: India's Message to the World #13-18, p.309.)
“The Americans, the English, the Dutch and the Portuguese got hold of the poor Africans and made them work hard while they lived; and their children of mixed birth were born in slavery and kept in that condition for a long period. From that wonderful example, the mind jumps back several thousand years and fancies that the same thing happened [in India]; and our archeologist dreams of India being full of dark-eyed aborigines, and the bright Aryan came from - the Lord knows where. According to some, they came from Central Asia. There are patriotic Englishmen who think that the Aryans were all red-haired. Others, according to their idea, think that they were all black-haired. If the writer happens to be a black-haired man, the Aryans were all black-haired! Of late, there was an attempt made to prove that the Aryans lived on the Swiss lakes. I should not be sorry of they had all been drowned there, theory and all. Some say now that they lived at the North Pole. Lord bless the Aryans and their habitations! As for the truth of these theories, there is not one word in our scriptures, not one, to prove that the Aryan ever came from anywhere outside of India - and in ancient India was included Afghanistan. There it ends. And the theory that the shudra castes were all non-Aryans and that they were a multitude, is equally illogical and equally irrational. It could not have been possible in those days that a few Aryans settled and lived there with a hundred thousand slaves at their command. These slaves would have eaten them up, made "chutney" of them in five minutes. The only explanation is to be found in the Mahabharata, which says that in the beginning of the Satya Yuga there was one caste, the brahmins; and then, by difference of occupation, they went on dividing themselves into different castes, and that is the only true and rational explanation that has been given. And in the coming Satya Yuga all the other castes will have to go back to the same condition.”(CW, Vol.3: The Future of India, pp.292-293)
The hoax called "Aryan Invasion Theory
“What your European pundits say about the Aryans' swooping down from some foreign land, snatching away the lands of the aborigines and settling in India by exterminating them, is all pure nonsense, foolish talk! Strange that our Indian scholars, too, say amen to them; and all these monstrous lies are being taught to our boys! This is very bad indeed. I am an ignoramus myself; I do not pretend to any scholarship; but with the little that I understand, I strongly protested against these ideas at the Paris Congress [in 1901]. I have been talking with the Indian and European savants on the subject, and hope to raise many objection to this theory in detail, when time permits. And this I say to you, to our pundits, also: "You are learned men; hunt up your old books and scriptures, please, and draw your own conclusions." Whenever Europeans find an opportunity, they exterminate the aborigines and settle down in ease and comfort on their lands; and therefore they think the Aryans must have done the same! The Westerners would be considered wretched vagabonds if they lived in their native homes, depending wholly on their own internal resources; and so they have to run wildly about the world seeking how they can feed upon the fat of the land of others by spoliation and slaughter; and therefore they conclude that the Aryans must have done the same! But where is your proof? Guess-work? Then keep your fanciful guesses to yourselves! In what Veda, in what Sukta, do you find that the Aryans came into India from a foreign country? Where do you get the idea that they slaughtered the wild aborigines? What do you gain by talking such nonsense?... India has never [exterminated weaker races and settled on their lands for ever]. The Aryans were kind and generous; and in their hearts, which were Large and unbounded as the ocean, and in their brains, gifted with superhuman genius, all these ephemeral and apparently pleasant, but virtually beastly practices never found a place.”( CW, Vol.5: The East and the West, pp.534-537)
Vedas are comprehensive and one more
step towards self –realisation
“There is a place in the Vedas [even] for superstition, for ignorance. The whole secret is to find out the proper place for everything”. (CW, Vol.1: The Gita I, p.457)
“One peculiarity of the Vedas is that they are the only scriptures that again and again declare that you must go beyond them. The Vedas say that they were written just for the child-mind, and when you have grown, you must go beyond them”. (CW, Vol.5: Questions and Answers - II, p.311)
“Our own realization is beyond the Vedas because even they depend upon that. The highest Vedanta is the philosophy of the Beyond”. (CW, Vol.7: Inspired Talks, July 6, 1895, pp.34-35)
Religion Is a Superconscious State That Is To Be
“Religion in India means realization and nothing short of that. "Believe in doctrines and you are a sage" can never be taught to us, for we do not believe in that. You are what you make yourselves. You are, by the grace of God and your own exertions, what you are. Mere believing in certain theories and doctrines will not help you much. The mighty word that came from the sky of spirituality in India was anubhuti, realization; and ours are the only books which declare
again and again, "The Lord is to be seen." Bold, brave words, indeed; but true to their very core. Every sound, every vibration is true. Religion is to be realized, not only heard; it is not in learning some doctrine like a parrot. Neither is it mere intellectual assent - that is nothing; but it must come into us”. (CW, Vol.3: The Common Bases of Hinduism, pp.377-378)
“Religion Is a Practical Science, the Opening of the Book of the Heart If you ask me how [all of] this can be practical, my answer is: it has been practical first and philosophical next. You can see that first these things have been perceived and realized, and then written. This world spoke to the early thinkers. Birds spoke to them, animals spoke to them, the sun and the moon spoke to them; and little by little they realized things and got into the heart of nature. Not by cogitation, not by the force of logic, not by picking the brains of others and making a big book, as is the fashion in modern times; not even as I do, by taking up one of their writings and making a long lecture, but by patient
investigation and discovery they found out the truth. Its essential method was practice, and so it must be, always. Religion is ever a practical science and there never was, nor will be any theological religion. It is practice first and knowledge afterwards”. (CW, Vol.2: Practical Vedanta II, p.317.)
Religion Is a Superconscious State That Is To Be
“Scriptures Only Help to Take Away the Veil Which Hides Truth from Our Eyes. Realization of religion is the only way. Each one of us will have to discover. Of what use are these books, then, these bibles of the world? They are of great use, just as maps are of a country. I have seen maps of England all my life before I came here, and they were great helps to me in forming some conception of England. Yet, when I arrived in this country, what a difference between the maps and the country itself! So is the difference between realization and the scriptures. These books are only maps, the experiences of past men and women, as a motive power to us to dare to make the same experiences and discover the same way, if not better”.
“This is the first principle of Vedanta - that realization is religion, and he or she who realizes is the religious person; and he or she who does not is no better than someone who says, "I do not know." - if not worse, because the other says, "I do not know" and is sincere. In this realization again, we shall be helped very much by these books, for every science has its own particular method of investigation”. (CW, Vol.6: Methods and Purpose of Religion, p.14.)
Reality must always be beyond all system
“The glory of the Vedic scriptures is unique in the history of religion, not merely because of their great antiquity, but vastly more for the fact that they alone amongst all the authoritative books of the world, warned man that he must go beyond all books.” (Chapter 17: The Swami's Mission Considered as a Whole, p.299.44)
“It is true that we have created a system of religion in India which we believe to be the only rational religious system extant; but our belief in its rationality rests upon its all-inclusion of the searchers after God, it absolute charity towards all forms of worship, and its eternal receptivity of those ideas tending towards the evolution of God in the universe. We admit the imperfections of our system, because the Reality must always be beyond all system; and in this admission lies the portent and promise of an eternal growth. Sects, ceremonies, and books, so far as they are the means of man's realizing his own nature, are all right; when he has realized that, he gives up everything. "I reject the Vedas!" is the last word of the Vedanta philosophy. Ritual, hymns and scriptures through which he has traveled to freedom vanish for him.” (CW, Vol.8: The Essence of Religion, pp.254-255)
“The Vedanta was (and is) the boldest system of religion. It stopped nowhere, and it had one advantage: there was no body of priests who sought to suppress everyone who tried to tell the truth. There was always absolute religious freedom. In India the bondage of superstitions is a social one;… in the West society is very free. Social matters in India are very strict, but religious opinion is free”.( CW, Vol.2: Maya and the Evolution of the Conception of God, pp.113-114.)
Fight against rituals and philosophy allowed and
“[Besides the priests and the kings engaged in struggle], there were others - recruited from both the priests and the king castes - who ridiculed equally the rituals and philosophers, declared spiritualism as a fraud and upheld the attainment of material comforts as the highest goal of life. The people, tired of ceremonials, and wondering at the philosophers, joined the materialists in masses”. (CW, Vol.6: The Historical Evolution of India, p.160)
The Charvakas, Who Upheld Materialism as
the Highest Goal of Life
“The Charvaka, or materialist, basing his doctrine on the first part - the sacrificial portion – of the Vedas, believed that all was matter and that there is neither a heaven nor a hell, neither a soul nor a God.” (CW, Vol.2: True Buddhism, p.508)
“The Charvakas... preached horrible things, the most rank, undisguised materialism, such as in the nineteenth century they dare not openly preach. These Charvakas were allowed to preach from temple to temple and city to city, that religion was all nonsense, that it was priestcraft, that the Vedas were the words and writings of fools, rogues, and demons, and that there was neither a God nor an eternal soul. If there were a soul, why did it not come back after death drawn by the love of wife and child? Their idea was that, if there were a soul, it must still love after death and want good things to eat and nice dress. Yet no one hurt these Charvakas.” (CW, Vol.2: Maya and the Evolution of the Conception of God, pp.114-115.)
“[The Charvaka movement] was the beginning of that caste question, and that triangular fight in India between ceremonials, philosophy and materialism which has come down unsolved to our own days”. (CW, Vol.6: The Historical Evolution of India, p.160.)
“What is material and what is not material? When the world is the end and God the means to attain that end, then that is material. When God is the end and the world is only the means to attain that end, spirituality has begun.”
Blame no view of religion as long as it is sincere.
“So, the ceremonials, worship of gods, and myths are all right, says Krishna.... Why? Because they all lead to the same goal. Ceremonies, books and forms - all these are the links in the chain. Get hold! That is the one thing. If you are sincere and have really got hold of one link, do not let go; the rest is bound to come. [But people] do not get hold. They spend the time quarreling and determining what they should get hold of, and do not get hold of anything.… We are always after truth, but never want to get it. We simply want the pleasure to go about and ask. We have a lot of energy and spend it that way. That is why Krishna says: Get hold of any one of these chains that are stretched out from a common center. No one step is greater than another....Blame no view of religion so far as it is sincere. Hold on to one of these links and it will pull you to the center. Your heart itself will teach all the rest. The teacher within will teach all the creeds, all the philosophies”. (CW, Vol.1: Krishna, p.439.)
Religion is a matter of experience
“Religion is a matter of experience, and not of intellectual understanding. One must practice it in order to understand it. Such a position is corroborated by the sciences of chemistry, physics, geology, etc. It won't do to put together one bottle of oxygen and two of hydrogen and then cry, "Where is the water?" They have to be placed in a closed container and an electric current passed through them so they can combine into water. Then only you can see water, and you can understand that water is produced from a combination of hydrogen and oxygen. If you wish to have the unitive experience, you must have that kind of faith in religion, that kind of eagerness, diligence, and patience; and then only you will succeed”. (Rems (Haripada Mitra), pp.51-52.)
“Obey the scriptures until you are strong enough to do without them; then go beyond them. Books are not an end-all. Verification is the only proof of religious truth. Each must verify for him- or herself; and no teacher who says, "I have seen, but you cannot", is to be trusted – only that one who says, "You can see, too." All scriptures, all truths are Vedas in all times, in all countries, because these truths are to be seen, and anyone may discover them.”(CW, Vol.7: Inspired Talks, June 24, 1895, p.9)
“ Knowledge can only be got in one way, the way of experience; there is no other way to know.”
“ The book one must read to learn natural sciences is the book of nature. The book from which to learn religion is your own mind and heart.”
“ The secret of life is not enjoyment but education through experience.”
Great role of Buddha
He broke the Mental and Spiritual Bonds of Men by Preaching Vedanta to the Whole World.
“India was full of witchcraft in Buddha's day. There were the masses of the people, and they were debarred from all knowledge. If just a word of the Vedas entered the ears of a man, terrible punishment was visited upon him. The priests had made a secret of the Vedas – the Vedas that contained the spiritual truths discovered by the ancient Hindus! At last, one man could bear it no more. He had the brain, the power and the heart - a heart as infinite as the broad sky. He felt how the masses were being led by the priests and how the priests were glorying in their power, and he wanted to do something about it. He did not want power over any one, and he wanted to break the mental and spiritual bonds of men.” (CW, Vol.8: Buddha's Message to the World, p.96-97)
“What Buddha did was to break wide open the gates of that very religion which was confined in the Upanishads and to a particular caste”. (CW, Vol.6: Letter to Swami Akhandananda from Ghazipur, February, 1890, p.225.)
Buddha helped the masses to know advaitha
“Advaita (which gets its whole force on the subjective side of man), was never allowed to come to the people. At first some monks got hold of it and took it to the forests, and so it came to be called the "forest philosophy". By the mercy of the Lord, the Buddha came and preached it to the masses, and the whole nation became Buddhists.” (CW, Vol.2: The Absolute and Manifestation, p.138.)
“Shakya Muni was himself a monk, and it was his glory that he had the large heartedness to bring out the truths from the hidden Vedas and throw them broadcast all over the world”. (CW, Vol.1: Buddhism, the Fulfillment of Hinduism, p.22)
Buddha was the living embodiment of true Vedanta.
“How much good to the world and its beings came out of Buddha's ["fanaticism"]! How many monasteries and schools and colleges, how many public hospitals and veterinary refuges were established! How developed architecture became! ... What was there in India before Buddha's advent? Only a number of religious principles recorded on bundles of palm leaves - and those, too, known only to a few. It was Lord Buddha who brought them down to the practical field and showed how to apply them in the everyday life of the people. In a sense he was the living embodiment of true Vedanta.” (CW, Vol.7: Conversation with Sharat Chandra Chakravarty , Belur, 1898, pp.118-119)
“Shakya Muni came not to destroy; he was the fulfillment, the logical conclusion, the logical development of the religion of the Hindus.” (CW, Vol.1: Buddhism, the Fulfillment of Hinduism, p.21)
Buddha wanted to make truth shine without any compromise
“Buddha wanted to make truth shine as truth. No softening, no compromise, no pandering to the priests, the powerful, the kings. No bowing before superstitious traditions, however hoary; no respect for forms and books just because they came down from the distant past. He rejected all scriptures, all forms of religious practice. Even the very language, Sanskrit, in which religions had traditionally been taught in India, he rejected, so that his followers would not have any chance to imbibe the superstitions that were associated with it.” (CW, Vol.8: Buddha's Message to the World, p.100)
Contrast between Buddhism and Hinduism
“The great point of contrast between Buddhism and Hinduism lies in the fact that Buddhism said, "Realize all this as illusion", while Hinduism said, "Realize that within the illusion is the Real." Of how this was to be done, Hindus never presumed to enunciate any rigid law. The Buddhist command could only be carried out through monasticism; the Hindu might be fulfilled through any state of life. All alike were roads to the one Real.... Thus Buddhism became the religion of a monastic order, but Hinduism, in spite of its exaltation of monasticism, remains ever the religion of faithfulness to daily duty, whatever it be, as the path by which man may attain God”. (CW, Vol.8: Sayings and Utterances #32 pp.273-274)
“ Buddha was a great Vedantist (for Buddhism is really only an offshoot of
Vedanta) and Shankara is often called a "hidden Buddhist". Buddha made the
analysis; Shankara made the synthesis out of it. Buddha never bowed down to
anything - neither Veda, nor caste, nor priest, nor custom. He fearlessly
reasoned so far as reason could take him. Such a fearless search for truth and
love for every living thing the world has never seen”.( CW, Vol.7: Inspired Talks, July 19, 1895, p.59.)
“A renascent India, bought by the valor and blood of the heroic Rajputs, defined by the merciless intellect of a brahmin from the same historical thought-center of Mithila (Kumarila Bhatta), led by a new philosophical impulse organized by Shankara and his band of sannyasins, and beautified by the arts and literature of the courts of Malava - arose on the ruins of the old.”(CW, Vol.6: The Historical Evolution of India, p.163.)
Shankaracharya placed before people the
wonderful, coherent system of Advaita
“A thousand years after Buddha's death... the mobs, the masses, and various races had been converted to Buddhism; naturally, the teachings of the Buddha became in time degenerated, because most of the people were very ignorant. Buddhism taught no God, no Ruler of the universe, so gradually the masses brought their gods and devils and hobgoblins out again and a tremendous hotchpotch was made of Buddhism in India. Again materialism came to the fore, taking the form of license with the upper classes and superstition with the lower. Then Shankaracharya arose and once more revivified Vedanta philosophy. He made it a rationalistic philosophy. In the Upanishads the arguments were often very obscure. By Buddha the moral side of the philosophy was laid stress upon, and by Shankaracharya, the intellectual side. He worked out, rationalized, and placed before people the wonderful, coherent system of Advaita”.( CW, Vol.2: The Absolute and Manifestation, p.139.)
Shankaracharya brought back the Vedas to life
“Shankaracharya….instead of preaching new doctrines and always thinking new thoughts and making sects, he brought back the Vedas to life; and modern Hinduism has thus an admixture of ancient Hinduism, over which the Vedantists predominate. But, you see, what once dies never comes back to life, and those ceremonials of Hinduism never came back to life. You will be astonished if I tell you that, according to the old ceremonials, he is not a good Hindu who does not eat beef. On certain occasions he must sacrifice a bull and eat it. That is disgusting now. However they may differ from each other in India, in that all Hindus are one - they never eat beef. The ancient sacrifices and the ancient gods - they are all gone; modern India belongs to the spiritual part of the Vedas”.(CW, Vol.3: Buddhistic India, pp.535-536.)
Shankara and Ramanuja firmly reestablished
the eternal Vedic religion
“Shankara and Ramanuja firmly reestablished the eternal Vedic religion, harmonizing and balancing in due proportions dharma, artha, kama and moksha [duty, gain, pleasure and liberation]. Thus the nation was brought to the way of regaining its lost life; but India has three hundred million souls to awake, and hence the delay. To revive three hundred millions - can it be done in a day?” (CW, Vol.5: The East and the West, pp.454-455)
The Upanishads, the Vyasa-Sutras, and the Gita
the three important Prasthanas
“In modern India the three Prasthanas are considered equally important in the study of all systems of [the Hindu or Vedic] religion. First of all there are the revelations - the Shrutis – by which I mean the Upanishads. Secondly, among our philosophies, the Sutras of Vyasa have the greatest prominence on account of their being the consummation of all the preceding systems of philosophy. These systems are not contradictory to one another, but one is based on another; and there is a gradual unfolding of the theme which culminates in the Sutras of Vyasa. Then, between the Upanishads and the Sutras, which are the systematizing of the marvelous truths of the Vedanta, comes in the Gita, the divine commentary on the Vedanta. The Upanishads, the Vyasa-Sutras, and the Gita, therefore, have to be taken up by every sect in India that wants to claim authority for orthodoxy, whether dualist, or vishishtadvaitists, or advaitist; the authorities of each of these are the three Prasthanas. We find that a Shankaracharya, or a Ramanuja, or a Madhvacarya, or a Vallabhacarya, or a Chaitanya – anyone who wanted to propound a new sect - had to take up these three systems and write… a new commentary on them.” (CW, Vol.3: The Vedanta, pp.395-396.)
“The three Prasthanas, then, in the different explanations of Dvaita, Vishishtadvaita, or Advaita, with a few minor recensions, form the "authorities" of the Hindu religion”. (CW, Vol.4: Reply to the Madras Address, p.335)
Aphorisms of Vyasa are the basis of the
“All schools of philosophy in India, although they claim to have been based on the Vedas, took different names for their systems. The last one, the system of Vyasa, took its stand upon the doctrines of the Vedas more than did the previous systems and made an attempt to harmonize the preceding philosophies, such as the Sankhya and the Nyaya, with the doctrines of the Vedanta. So it is especially called the Vedanta philosophy; and the Sutras or aphorisms of Vyasa are, in modern India, the basis of the Vedanta philosophy.” (CW, Vol.1: The Vedanta Philosophy, p.358.
“Vyasa' s philosophy is par excellence that of the Upanishads”.(CW, Vol.7: Inspired Talks, July 7, p.36.)
“Following the Upanishads there come other philosophies of India, but every one of them failed to get that hold on India which the philosophy of Vyasa has got, although the philosophy of Vyasa is a development out of an older one, the Sankhya; and every philosophy and every system in India - I mean, throughout the world - owes much to Kapila [the founder of Sankhya], perhaps the greatest name in the history of India in psychological and philosophical lines.... The philosophy of Vyasa, the Vyasa Sutras, is firm-seated and has attained the permanence of that which it intended to present to humanity, the Brahman of the Vedantic side of philosophy. Reason was entirely subordinated to the Shrutis; and, as Shankara declares, Vyasa did not care to reason at all. His idea in writing the Sutras was just to bring together, and with one thread to make a garland of the flowers of Vedantic texts. His Sutras are admitted so far as they are subordinate to the authority of the Upanishads, and no further. And, as I have said, all the sects of India now hold these Vyasa Sutras to be the great authority, and every new sect in India starts with a fresh commentary on the Vyasa Sutras according to its light.... The Vyasa Sutras have got the place of authority, and no one can expect to found a sect in India until he or she can write a fresh commentary on them”. (CW, Vol.3: The Vedanta in All Its Phases, pp.327-328.)
Aphorisms of Vyasa are the basis of the
“If one be asked to point out the system of thought towards which as a center all the ancient and modern Indian thought have converged, if one wants to see the real backbone of Hinduism in all its various manifestations, the Sutras of Vyasa will unquestionably be pointed out as constituting all that. Either one hears the Advaita keshari (lion of Vedanta) roaring in peals of thunder - the asti,bhati, priya (It exists, shines, and is beloved) - amid the heart-stopping solemnities of the Himalayan forests, mixing with the solemn cadence of the river of heaven; or listens to the cooing of the piya, pitam in the beautiful bowers of the grove of Vrinda; whether one mingles with the sedate meditations of the monasteries of Varanasi or the ecstatic dances of the followers of the Prophet of Nadia (Sri Chaitanya); whether one sits at the feet of the teacher of the Vishishtadvaita system with its Vadakale, Tenkale (two divisions of the Ramanuja sect) and all the other subdivisions; or listens with reverence to the acharyas of the Madhva school; whether one hears the martial Wa guruki fateh of the secular Sikhs or the sermons on the Grantha Sahib of the Udasis and Nirmalas; whether he salutes the sannyasin disciples of Kabir with Sat sahib and listens with joy to the sakhis (bhajans); whether he pores upon the wonderful lore of that reformer of Rajputana, Dadu, or the works of his royal disciple, Sundaradasa, down to the great Nischaladasa, the celebrated author of the Vichara Sagara, which book has more influence on India than any that has been written in any language within the last three centuries; if one even asks the Bhangi Mehtar of Northern India to sit down and give an account of the teachings of his Lalguru - one will find that all these various teachers and schools have as their basis that system whose authority is the Shruti, the Gita its divine commentary, the Shariraka [Vyasa] Sutras its organized system, and all the different sects in India, from the Paramahamsa Parivrajakacharyas to the poor despised Mehtar disciples of Lalguru are different manifestations”. (CW, Vol.4: Reply to the Madras Address, pp.334-335.)
“Next in authority is the celebrated Gita. The great glory of Shankaracharya was his preaching of the Gita. It is one of the greatest works that this great man did among the many noble works of his noble life - the preaching of the Gita and writing the most beautiful commentary upon it. And he has been followed by all the founders of the orthodox sects in India, each of whom has written a commentary on the Gita”. (CW, Vol.3: The Vedanta in All Its Phases, p.328) Gita has in fact harmonized the many contradictory parts of the Upanishads.
The Great Sacred Books
“I hope and wish... that you will reverently study the Upanishads, the Brahma Sutras, and the Bhagavadgita, which are known as the Prasthanatraya (the three supreme sources of truth), as also the Itihasas (epics), the Puranas, and the Agamas (Tantras). You will not find the like of all these anywhere else in the world. Human beings alone, of all living beings, have a hunger in their hearts to know the whence and whither, the whys and wherefores of things. There are four key words which you must remember, viz. abhaya (fearlessness), ahimsa (non-injury), asanga (nonattachment), and ananda (bliss). These words really sum up the essence o of all our sacred books. Remember them. Their implication will become clear to you later on”. (Rems., (K.S. Ramaswami Shastri), p.108)
“[Many] books constitute the scriptures of the Hindus. When there is such a
mass of sacred books in a nation and a race which has devoted the greatest
part of its energies to the thought of philosophy and spirituality (nobody knows
for how many thousands of years), it is quite natural that there should be so
many sects; indeed it is a wonder that there are not thousands more.( CW, Vol.3: Vedantism, p.122.)
Intellect is necessary for spiritual aspiration
“Ordinarily speaking, spiritual aspiration ought to be balanced through the intellect, otherwise it may degenerate into mere sentimentality.”
Interdependence is the law of the whole universe.
“The Intellect Cannot Answer the Riddle of How the Infinite Became the Finite. The one question that is most difficult to grasp in understanding the Advaita philosophy, and the one question that will be asked again and again, and that will always remain is: how has the Infinite, the Absolute, become the finite? I will now take up this question and, in order to illustrate it, I will use a figure: Here is the Absolute (a), and this is the universe (b). The Absolute has become the universe. By this is not only meant the material world, but the mental world, the spiritual world - heavens and earths and, in fact, everything that exists. Mind is the name of a change, and body the name of another change, and so on; and all these changes compose our universe. This Absolute (a) has become the universe (b) by coming through time, space and causation (c). This is the central idea of Advaita. Time, space and causation are like the glass through which the Absolute is seen; and when It is seen on the lower side, It appears as the universe.”
Interdependence is the law of the whole universe.
“ Now, we at once gather from this that in the Absolute there is neither time, space, nor causation. The idea of time cannot be there, seeing that there is no mind, no thought. The idea of space cannot be there, seeing that there is no external change. What you call motion and causation cannot exist where there is only One. We have to understand this, and impress it upon our mind, that what we call causation begins after, if we may be permitted to say so, the degeneration of the Absolute into the phenomenal, and not before;
and that our will, our desire, and all these things always come after that”
A stone falls and we ask why. This question is possible only on the supposition that nothing happens without a cause. I request you to make this very clear in your minds, for whenever we ask why anything happens, we are taking for granted that everything that happens must have a why; that is to say, it must have been preceded by something else which acted as the cause. This precedence and succession are what we call the law of causation. It means that everything in the universe is by turns a cause and an effect. It is the cause of certain things which come after it and is itself the effect of something else which has preceded it. This is called the law of causation and is a necessary condition of all our thinking.
We believe that every particle in the universe, wherever it be, is in relation to every other particle. There has been much discussion as to how this idea arose. In Europe there have been intuitive philosophers who believed that it was constitutional in humanity, others have believe it came from experience; but the question has never been settled. We shall see later on what Vedanta has to say about it. But first we have to understand that the very asking of the question why presupposes that everything around us has been preceded by certain other things and will be succeeded by certain other things.
The other belief involved in this question is that nothing in the universe is independent, that everything is acted upon by something outside itself. Interdependence is the law of the whole universe.....Coming from subtleties of logic to the logic of our common plane, to commonsense, we can see this from another side, when we seek to know how the Absolute has become the relative. Supposing we know the answer, would the Absolute remain the Absolute? It would have become the relative” (CW, Vol.2: The Absolute and Manifestation, pp.130-132.)
The world is a mixture of existence and non-existence
“The Vedantist... has proved beyond all doubt that the mind is limited, that it cannot go beyond certain limits - beyond time, space and causation. As no one can jump out of his or her own self, so no one can go beyond the limits that have been put on him or her by the laws of time and space. Every attempt to solve the laws of causation, time and space would be futile, because the very attempt would have to be made by taking for granted the existence of these three. What does the statement of the existence of the world mean, then? "This world has no existence" - what is meant by that? It means it has no absolute
existence. It exists only in relation to my mind, to your mind, and to the mind of everyone else. We see this world with the five senses, but if we had another sense, we would see in it something more. If we had another sense, it would appear as something still different. It has, therefore, no real existence; it has no unchangeable, immovable, infinite existence. Nor can it be called nonexistence, seeing that it exists, and we have to work in and through it. It is a mixture of existence and non-existence”. (CW, Vol.2: Maya and Illusion, pp.90-91.)
“The internal universe, the real, is infinitely greater than the external, which is only a shadowy projection of the true one. This world is neither true nor untrue, it is the shadow of truth. ''Imagination is the gilded shadow of
truth,'' says the poet”(one of his inspired talks)
Change is always subjective conquer through the
subjective, by perfecting the subjective.
“The Surest Way of Arriving at Facts Is through Change in the Subjective Here is another thing to learn. How do you know that nature is finite? You can only know this through metaphysics. Nature is that Infinite under limitations.Therefore it is finite. So there must come a time when we shall have conquered all environments. And how are we to conquer them? We cannot possibly conquer all the objective environments. We cannot. The little fish want to fly from its enemies in the water. How does it do so? By evolving wings and becoming a bird. The fish did not change the air or the water; the change was in itself. Change is always subjective. All through evolution you find that the conquest of nature comes by change in the subject. Apply this to religion and morality, and you will find that the conquest of evil comes by the change in the subjective alone. That is how the Advaita system gets its whole force - on the subjective side of humanity. To talk of evil and misery is nonsense, because they do not exist outside. If I am immune against all anger I never feel angry. If I am proof against all hatred I never feel hatred. This is, therefore, the process by which to achieve that conquest - through the subjective, by perfecting the subjective”. (CW, Vol.2: The Absolute and Manifestation, pp.137-138.)
Creation never had a beginning, and it will
never have an end and there never
was a time when there was no creation
“Creation Is Without Beginning or End. The Vedas assert that the universe is infinite in space and eternal in duration.
It never had a beginning, and it will never have an end. (CW, Vol.4: Indian Religious Thought, p.188.)
The Hindus received their religion through the revelation of the Vedas which teach that creation is without beginning or end. (CW, Vol.2: The Hindu View of Life, p.501.)
The ancient sages did not believe in a creation [out of nothing]. A creation implies producing something out of nothing. That is impossible. There was no beginning of creation as there was no beginning of time. God and creation are as two lines without end, without beginning, and parallel. Our theory of creation is, "It is, it was, and is to be." (CW, Vol.5: Questions and Answers III, p.313)
[The spiritual laws comprising the Vedas] may be said to be without end as laws, but they must have had a beginning. The Vedas teach us that creation is without beginning and without end. Science is said to have proved that the sum total of cosmic energy is always the same. Then, if there was a time when nothing existed, where was all this manifested energy? Some say it was in a potential form of God. In that case, God is sometimes potential and sometimes kinetic, which would make Him or Her mutable. Everything mutable is a compound, and everything compound must undergo that change which is called destruction. So God would die, which is absurd. So there never was a time when there was no creation”. (CW, Vol.1: Paper on Hinduism, p.7)
Stand up for your faith and strength
“There are two great obstacles on our path in India - the Scylla of the old
orthodoxy, and the Charybdis of modern European civilization. Of those two, I
vote for the old orthodoxy and not for the Europeanized system; for the old
orthodox people may be ignorant, they may be crude, but they are real human
beings, they have faith, they have strength, they stand on their own feet; while
Europeanized people have no backbone, they are a mass of heterogeneous ideas picked up at random from every source - and these ideas are unassimilated, undigested, unharmonized. They do not stand on their own feet, and their heads are turning round and round. Where is the motive power of their work? In a few, patronizing pats from the English people. Their schemes of reforms, their vehement vituperations against the evils of certain social customs have, as the mainspring, some European patronage. Why are some of our customs called evil? Because the Europeans say so. That is about the reason they give. I would not submit to that. Stand and die in your own strength; if there is any sin the world, it is weakness. Avoid all weakness, for weakness is sin, weakness is death. These unbalanced creatures are not yet formed into distinct personalities. What are we to call them - men, women, or animals? On the other hand, these old, orthodox people were staunch, and were real human beings”.
( CW, Vol.3: Reply to the Address of Welcome at Ramnad, p.151)
"You must not say that you are weak. How do you know what
possibilities lie behind that degradation on the surface? You know but
little of that which is within you. For behind you is the ocean of
infinite power and blessedness."
“ Meditation means the mind is turned back upon itself. The mind stops all the thought-waves and the world stops. Your consciousness expands. Every time you meditate, you will keep your growth”
“ Not even the deepest sleep will give you such a rest as meditation can. The mind goes on jumping even in deepest sleep. Just those few moments in
meditation your brain has almost stopped. … You forget the body. … You feel
such pleasure in it. You become so light. This perfect rest we will get in
“ The animal has its happiness in the senses, the human beings in their intellect, and the gods in spiritual contemplation. It is only to the soul that has attained to this contemplative state that the world really becomes beautiful.”
“ The greatest help to spiritual life is meditation. In meditation we divest
ourselves of all material conditions and feel our divine nature. We do not
depend upon any external help in meditation. The touch of the soul can paint
the brightest color even in the dingiest places; it can cast a fragrance over the
vilest thing; it can make the wicked divine--and all enmity, all selfishness is
“ The meditative state is the highest state of existence. So long as there is
desire, no real happiness can come. It is only the contemplative, witness-like
study of objects that brings to us real enjoyment and happiness.”
“Work a little harder at meditation and it comes. You do not feel the body or anything else. When you come out of it after the hour, you have had the most beautiful rest you ever had in your life. That is the only way you ever give rest to your system.”
“ It is meditation that brings us nearer to truth than anything else”.
“ Neither seek nor avoid; take what comes. It is liberty to be affected by nothing. Do not merely endure; be unattached”.
“ Nature, body, mind go to death, not we. We neither go nor come. The man Vivekananda is in nature, is born and dies; but the Self we see as Vivekananda is never born and never dies. It is the eternal and unchangeable Reality”.
“Jnana teaches that the world should be given up, but not on that account to be abandoned. To be in the world but not of it—is the true test of the sannyasin.”
“ When we can attach the mind to—or detach it from—the sense at our will, we shall really possess character. Then alone we shall have taken a long step towards freedom; before that, we are mere machines”.
“When we come to nonattachment, then we can understand the marvelous mystery of the universe: how it is intense activity and at the same time intense peace, how it is work every moment and rest every moment.”
“Neither seek nor avoid, take what comes. It is liberty to be affected by nothing ; do not merely endure, be unattached. Remember the story of the bull. A mosquito sat long on the horn of a certain bull 5 then his conscience troubled him and he said : " Mr. Bull, I have been sitting here a long time, perhaps I annoy
you. I am sorry, I will go away." But the bull replied : " Oh no, not at all 1 Bring your whole family and live on my horn ; what can you do to me ?"
Free your self
“ Our supreme duty is to advance toward freedom—physical, mental, and spiritual—and help others to do so”.
“When we have become free, we need not go mad and throw up society and rush off to die in the forest or the cave; we shall remain where we were but we shall understand the whole thing. The same phenomena will remain but with a new meaning”.
Superstition and bigotry
“ Superstition is our great enemy, but bigotry is worse.”
“ The powers of the mind should be concentrated and the mind turned back upon itself; as the darkest places reveal their secrets before the penetrating rays of the sun, so will the concentrated mind penetrate its own innermost secrets.”
“To me the very essence of education is concentration of mind,
not the collecting of facts.”
“If I had to do my education over again, and had any voice in the matter,
I would not study facts at all. I would develop the power of concentration
and detachment, and then with a perfect instrument I could collect facts
“The more this power of concentration, the more knowledge is acquired,
because this is the one and only method of acquiring knowledge. Even the
lowest shoeblack, if he gives more concentration, will black shoes better; the
cook with concentration will cook a meal all the better. In making money, or
in worshipping God, or in doing anything, the better the power of
concentration, the better will that thing be done. This is the one call, the one
knock, which opens the gates of nature, and lets out the floods of light.” CW II
“ The main difference between men and the animals is the difference in their power of concentration. All success in any line of work is the result of this.
….. The difference in the power of concentration also constitutes the
difference between man and man. Compare the lowest with the highest man.
The difference is in the degree of concentration”. CW VI 37
"Concentration is the essence of all knowledge; nothing can be done
without it. Ninety percent of thought force is wasted by the ordinary
human being, and therefore he is constantly committing blunders; the
trained man or mind never makes a mistake."
Search in the correct place
“ The sages are often ignorant of physical science, because they read the wrong book—the book within; and the scientists are too often ignorant of religion, because they too read the wrong book—the book outside.”
Evolution of Vedanta philosophy
“It is remarkable also that the possession of India by a foreign power
has always been a turning-point in the history of that power, bringing
to it wealth, prosperity, dominion, and spiritual ideas. While the
Western man tries to measure how much it is possible for him to
possess and to enjoy, the Eastern seems to take the opposite course,
and to measure how little of material possessions he can do with. In
the Vedas we trace the endeavour of that ancient people to find God.
In their search for Him they came upon different strata; beginning
with ancestor worship, they passed on to the worship of Agni, the
fire-god, of Indra, the god of thunder, and of Varuna, the God of
gods. We find the growth of this idea of God, from many gods to one
God, in all religions; its real meaning is that He is the chief of the
tribal gods, who creates the world, rules it, and sees into every heart;
the stages of growth lead up from a multiplicity of gods to
monotheism. This anthropomorphic conception, however, did not
satisfy the Hindus, it was too human for them who were seeking the
Divine. Therefore they finally gave up searching for God in the outer
world of sense and matter, and turned their attention to the inner
world. Is there an inner world? And what is it? It is Âtman. It is the
Self, it is the only thing an individual can be sure of. If he knows
himself, he can know the universe, and not otherwise.”….
Evolution of Vedanta philosophy
“ The same question was asked in the beginning of time, even in the Rig-Veda, in another form: "Who or what existed from the beginning?" That
question was gradually solved by the Vedanta philosophy. The Atman existed. That is to say, what we call the Absolute, the Universal Soul, the Self, is the force by which from the beginning all things have been and are and will be manifested. While the Vedanta philosophers solved that question, they at the
same time discovered the basis of ethics. Though all religions have taught ethical precepts, such as, "Do not kill, do not injure; love your neighbour as yourself," etc., yet none of these has given the reason. Why should I not injure my neighbour? To this question there was no satisfactory or conclusive answer forthcoming, until it was evolved by the metaphysical speculations of the Hindus who could not rest satisfied with mere dogmas. So the Hindus say that this Atman is absolute and all-pervading, therefore infinite. There cannot
be two infinites, for they would limit each other and would become finite. Also each individual soul is a part and parcel of that Universal Soul, which is infinite. Therefore in injuring his neighbour, the individual actually injures himself. This is the basic metaphysical truth underlying all ethical codes. It is too often believed that a person in his progress towards perfection passes from error to truth; that when he passes on from one thought to another, he must necessarily reject the first. But no error can lead to truth. The soul passing through its different stages goes from truth to truth, and each stage is true; it goes from lower truth to higher truth. This point may be illustrated in the following way. A man is journeying towards the sun and takes a photograph at each step. How different would be the first photograph from the second and still more from the third or the last, when he reaches the real sun! But all these, though differing so
widely from each other, are true, only they are made to appear different by the changing conditions of time and space. It is the recognition of this truth, which has enabled the Hindus to perceive the universal truth of all religions, from the lowest to the highest; it has made of them the only people who never had religious persecutions.”
Evolution of Vedanta philosophy
“ Let us take our stand on the one central truth in our religion —
the common heritage of the Hindus, the Buddhists, and Jains alike — the spirit of man, the Atman of man, the immortal, birthless, all-pervading, eternal soul of man whose glories the Vedas cannot themselves express, before whose majesty the universe with its galaxy upon galaxy of suns and stars and nebulae is as a drop. Every man or woman, nay, from the highest Devas to the worm that crawls under our feet, is such a spirit evoluted or involuted. The difference is not in kind, but in degree. This infinite power of the spirit, brought to bear upon matter evolves material development, made to act upon thought evolves intellectuality, and made to act upon itself makes of man a God. First, let us be Gods, and then help others to be Gods. "Be and make." Let this be our motto. Say not man is a sinner. Tell him that he is a God. Even if there were a devil, it would be our duty to remember God always, and not the devil. If the room is dark, the constant feeling and repeating of darkness will not take it away, but bring in the light. Let us know that all that is negative, all that is destructive, all that is mere criticism, is bound to pass away; it is the positive, the affirmative, the constructive that is immortal, that will remain forever. Let us say, "We are" and "God is" and "We are God", "Shivoham, Shivoham", and march on. Not matter but spirit. All that has name and form is subject to all that has none. This is the eternal truth the Shrutis preach. Bring in the light; the darkness will vanish of itself. Let the lion of Vedanta roar; the foxes will fly to their holes. Throw the ideas broadcast, and let the result take care of itself. Let us put the chemicals together; the crystallization will take its own course. Bring forth the power of the spirit, and pour it over the length and breadth of India; and all that is necessary will come by itself. Manifest the divinity within you, and everything will be harmoniously arranged around it. Remember the illustration of Indra and Virochana in the Vedas; both were taught their divinity. But the Asura,
Virochana, took his body for his God. Indra, being a Deva, understood that the Atman was meant. You are the children of India. You are the descendants of the Devas. Matter can never be your God; body can never be your God.”
“The essence of Vedanta is that there is but one Being and that
every soul is that Being in full, not a part of that Being.”
What is the soul?
“We cannot understand God in our scriptures without knowing the
soul. There have been attempts in India, and outside of India too, to catch a glimpse of the beyond by studying external nature, and we all know what an awful failure has been the result. Instead of giving us a glimpse of the beyond, the more we study the material world, the more we tend to become materialised. The more we handle the material world, even the little spirituality which we possessed before vanishes. Therefore that is not the way to spirituality, to knowledge of the Highest; but it must come through the heart, the human soul. The external workings do not teach us anything about the beyond, about the Infinite, it is only the internal that can do so. Through soul,
therefore, the analysis of the human soul alone, can we understand God. There are differences of opinion as to the nature of the human soul among the various sects in India, but there are certain points of agreement. We all agree that souls are without beginning and without end, and immortal by their very nature; also that all powers, blessing, purity, omnipresence, omniscience are buried in each soul. That is a grand idea we ought to remember. In every man and in every animal, however weak or wicked, great or small, resides the same omnipresent, omniscient soul. The difference is not in the soul, but in the manifestation. Between me and the smallest animal, the difference is only in manifestation, but as a principle he is the same as I am, he is my brother, he has the same soul as I have. This is the greatest principle that India has preached. The talk of the
brotherhood of man becomes in India the brotherhood of universal life, of animals, and of all life down to the little ants — all these are our bodies. Even as our scripture says, "Thus the sage, knowing that the same Lord inhabits all bodies, will worship every body as such." That is why in India there have been such merciful ideas about the poor, about animals, about everybody, and everything else. This is one of the common grounds about our ideas of the soul.”
Negative thought weakens
“ Negative thought weakens. Do you not find that where parents are
constantly taxing their sons to read and write, telling them they will
never learn anything, and calling them fools and so forth, the latter do
actually turn out to be so in many cases? If you speak kind words to boys and encourage them, they are bound to improve in time. What holds good of children, also holds good of children in the region of higher thoughts.
If you can give them positive ideas, people will grow up to be men and learn
to stand on their own legs. In language and literature, in poetry and
arts--------------in everything we must point out not the mistakes that people are making in their thoughts and actions, but the way in which they will
gradually be able to do these things better. Pointing out mistakes wounds a
“ If you cannot speak a few encouraging words, speak nothing”.
Do not hide facts , be bold and carry your spirits upwards
“ Every child is a born optimist; he dreams golden dreams. In
youth he becomes still more optimistic. It is hard for a young man to believe that there is such a thing as death, such a thing as defeat or degradation. Old age comes, and life is a mass of ruins. Dreams have vanished into the air, and the man becomes a pessimist. Thus we go from one extreme to another, buffeted
by nature……………..not one ideal can be fully attained, not one thirst can be quenched………………and when latter we get kicked about by society like foot balls…………………we sit in a corner and croak and throw cold water on the enthusiasm of others. But bold we must be. Hiding facts is not the way to find a remedy. As you all know, a hare hunted by dogs puts its head down and thinks itself safe……………….If we sit down and lament over the imperfection of our bodies and minds, we profit nothing; it is the heroic endeavour to subdue adverse circumstances that carries our spirit upwards.”
Drop the ego and thank God that you have become
part of the good force that is going on.
“Our good is not dependent on a person, a race, or on an area. Our good is for the mankind. Good has no boundaries. The moment good work is attached with an agenda wanting someone to get converted then the good work lost its importance to conversion and that is no more a good work. Goodness of good work becomes secondary and our other agenda becomes primary. A good work does not have any boundaries. Only with the expectation of results, we create boundaries. When Krishna said ‘don’t think of the results’, he never meant that good results were not going to come. His idea was ‘don’t create a boundary around goodness’. The thing which has no boundary is called as the divine (Ananthata= infinite). This is Karma Yoga. Karma Yoga tells us to do the good
activity and not to look at the results. But there is one more step Krishna wants us to recognize and it will take us one more step ahead. Despite the fact that there is no visible result that you expected, do not become depressed. The assurance is that the result is going to be there anyway. Then the second objection when we start thinking is: “What a wonderful, good work I’m doing. I am not even expecting results, but I am doing good work.” This doing good work can become our ego. This is the evil about the good work. A person who does bad work is saved from this evil anyway. A person who does bad work is not egoistic, but a person who does good work can become egoistic. We have to be
careful with that. Who are you to do good work? You can never do good work. Good work is always there in this world. You can only become a part of the good work that has been going on. I tell the truth. Truth is always there. Millions of people have been telling truth, and the truth is supporting them. The same way, you are also telling the truth. You can be egoistic of goodness if you start thinking you are doing good work. Subtly seeing you can only join the good forces that are there in this world. Even before the untruth took birth, truth was there. So truth is something which is eternal. The good work is eternal. It is like a
river that flows all the time, perennial. Your good work is like taking a dip in that river. Be humble. Be humble that you are given a chance to be good. Good is going on, and you are associated with that. Thank God that you have become part of the good force that is going on. This attitude takes away the ego of goodness, which is much more dangerous.”
To do good, perfect unselfishness is absolutely necessary.
Be steady. Avoid jealousy and selfishness.
The selfish man is the most miserable in the world.
Are you perfectly unselfish? If so, you are irresistible.
The difference between God and the devil is in nothing except in
unselfishness and selfishness.
The only remedy is in making unselfish men and women.
The exercise of might is invariably the exercise of selfishness.. He who has more of this unselfishness is more spiritual and nearer to Shiva.
The perfectly unselfish man is the most successful.
Force against force never cures, and the only cure of evil is unselfishness.
All love is life, it is the only law of life; all selfishness is death, and
this is true here or hereafter.
There must not be a shade of jealousy or selfishness, then you are a leader.
Selfish work is slave’s work.
Be perfectly unselfish, and you will be sure to succeed.
The happiest is the man who is not at all selfish.
The degree of unselfishness marks the degree of success everywhere.
With the sense of possession comes selfishness.
It is only selfishness that causes the difference between good and evil.
Our own selfishness makes us the most arrant cowards; our own
selfishness is the great cause of fear and cowardice.
Selfishness is the chief sin, thinking of ourselves first.
There should be no motive for selfishness.
Selfishness is the great curse of the world.
True happiness consists in killing selfishness.
It is selfishness that we must seek to eliminate.
To be unselfish, perfectly selfless, is salvation itself; for the man
within dies, and God alone remains.
Cast into the fire/ all thy dross of self, thy mean selfishness.
Unselfishness is God.
The more selfish a man, the more immoral he is.
All ethics, all human action and all human thought,
hang upon this one idea of unselfishness.
These are gleaned from some of his writings and speeches at different occasions
“The goal of all nature is freedom, and freedom is to be attained only
by perfect unselfishness; every thought, word, or deed that is
unselfish takes us towards the goal, and, as such, is called moral.
The more selfish a man, the more immoral he is.
Be unselfish even unto death, and work.
Fearlessness is the test of truth. Unselfishness is the test of
Root out selfishness, and everything that makes you selfish.
Avoid jealousy and selfishness.
Our goal is unselfishness.
Love knows no barter, no selfishness.
Unselfishness is more paying, only people have not the patience to
Are you unselfish? That is the question. If you are, you will be
perfect without reading a single religious book, without going into
a single church or temple.
All expansion is life, all contradiction is death. All love is expansion,
all selfishness is contradiction. Love is therefore the only law of life.
Let all our actions---------------eating, drinking, and everything that
we do-------------------tend towards the sacrifice of our self.
No selfishness, no name, no fame, yours or mine, nor my Master’s
Self-abnegation is the centre of all morality. The Vedas cannot show you Brahman, you are That already;
they can only help to take away the veil that hides the truth
from our eyes. The first veil to vanish is ignorance, and when
that is gone, sin goes, next desire ceases, selfishness ends and
all misery disappears. This cessation of ignorance can only
come when I know that God and I are one; in other words,
identify yourself with Atman, not with human limitations.
Disidentify yourself with the body and all will cease. This is
the secret of healing. The universe is a case of
hypnotization; dehypnotize yourself and cease to suffer.
Those who live unselfishly are those who have a life that’s most
People never stop to think that those who bestowed the
least thought on their own individualities have been the
greatest workers in the world.
Be perfectly unselfish, and you will be sure to succeed.
Root out selfishness, and everything that makes you selfish.
There is only one ideal in morality unselfishness.
Perfection does not come from belief or faith. Talk does
not count for anything. Parrots can do that. Perfection
comes through selfless work.
Give me few men and women who are pure and selfless and I shall
shake the world.
Truth can never come to us as long as we are selfish.
Truth, purity, and unselfishness — wherever these are present,
there is no power below or above the sun to crush the possessor
thereof. Equipped with these, one individual is able to face the
Strength is important
“Be strong, my young friends, that is my advice to you. You will be nearer to heaven through football than through study of the Gita. These are bold words, but I have to say them, for I love you. I know where the shoe pinches. I have gained a little experience. You will understand the Gita better with your
biceps, your muscles, a little stronger. CW III 242”
“This is one question I put to every men…..Are you strong? Do you feel
strength? – for I know it is the truth alone that gives strength…….Strength is
the medicine for the world’s disease. CW II 201”
“This is great fact; Strength is life; weakness is death. Strength is felicity, life eternal, immortal; weakness is constant strain and misery, weakness is
death. CW II 3”
Dreams can never become a reality without hard work.
"Fortune approaches him who is industrious. It is the weak-minded who says 'fate gives’. No acts are done by mere desires; they are done only by diligence. The deer doesn’t enter the mouth of a sleeping lion. Men obtain the desired fruit by speak of destiny only. Neither the lazy nor those who depend
solely on destiny fulfil their objective. Therefore, one should persist in self-effort by all means."