29 May 2014

Nishkam Karma Of Bhagavad Gita

Nishkam Karma or Nishkama Karma (Devanagari: निष्काम कर्म) is a prominent theme of Bhagavad Gita. It is also considered as the essence or the central message of Bhagavad Gita.

Nishkama Karma
The term is Nishkam Karma or निष्काम कर्म. First let's try to understand its meaning.
  • Nishkam/निष्काम is a sandhi of nih+kam or निः+काम. Here "nih" or "निः" means "without" and "kam/काम" means "kamna"/"कामना", i.e. any kind of desire.
  • Karma/कर्म means "work"/"action", "kri/कृ " dhatu.
So, the term "Nishkam Karma" means "action or without desire" or "work without motive".
To elaborate this— Krisha suggests that we have rights only on the work or the action, and not on its results, whether it is good or bad. Our works, our desires should be "desireless", we should not desire for any pleasing (or unpleasing) result.

As I have already mentioned "Nishkama Karma" is the central message of Bhagavad Gita, readers will surely notice that are many verses in Bhagavad Gita discussin "Nishkam Karma" theme.

In this article our topic is Swami Vivekananda's quotes and comments on Bhagavad Gita's teaching "Nishkam Karma".

Swami Vivekananda on Nishkama Karma
Here you'll find Swami Vivekananda's mentions, quotes and commentaries on Bhagavad Gita's teaching "Nishkam Karma".

What is Nishkama Karma?

Krishna and Arjuna
Swamiji told—[Source]
  • Now, what is the meaning of working without motive? Nowadays many understand it in the sense that one is to work in such a way that neither pleasure nor pain touches his mind. If this be its real meaning, then the animals might be said to work without motive. Some animals devour their own offspring, and they do not feel any pangs at all in doing so. Robbers ruin other people by robbing them of their possessions; but if they feel quite callous to pleasure or pain, then they also would be working without motive. If the meaning of it be such, then one who has a stony heart, the worst of criminals, might be considered to be working without motive. The walls have no feelings of pleasure or pain, neither has a stone, and it cannot be said that they are working without motive. In the above sense the doctrine is a potent instrument in the hands of the wicked. They would go on doing wicked deeds, and would pronounce themselves as working without a motive. If such be the significance of working without a motive, then a fearful doctrine has been put forth by the preaching of the Gita. Certainly this is not the meaning. Furthermore, if we look into the lives of those who were connected with the preaching of the Gita, we should find them living quite a different life. Arjuna killed Bhishma and Drona in battle, but withal, he sacrificed all his self-interest and desires and his lower self millions of times.[Source]
  • The next is, Nishkâma Karma, or work without desire or attachment. People nowadays understand what is meant by this in various ways. Some say what is implied by being unattached is to become purposeless. If that were its real meaning, then heartless brutes and the walls would be the best exponents of the performance of Nishkama Karma. Many others, again, give the example of Janaka, and wish themselves to be equally recognised as past masters in the practice of Nishkama Karma! Janaka (lit. father) did not acquire that distinction by bringing forth children, but these people all want to be Janakas, with the sole qualification of being the fathers of a brood of children! No! The true Nishkama Karmi (performer of work without desire) is neither to be like a brute, nor to be inert, nor heartless. He is not Tâmasika but of pure Sattva. His heart is so full of love and sympathy that he can embrace the whole world with his love. The world at large cannot generally comprehend his all-embracing love and sympathy.[Source]

The result of every work is mixed with good and evil

Swamiji observed—[Source]
The result of every work is mixed with good and evil. There is no good work that has not a touch of evil in it. Like smoke round the fire, some evil always clings to work. We should engage in such works as bring the largest amount of good and the smallest measure of evil. Arjuna killed Bhishma and Drona; if this had not been done Duryodhana could not have been conquered, the force of evil would have triumphed over the force of good, and thus a great calamity would have fallen on the country. The government of the country would have been usurped by a body of proud unrighteous kings, to the great misfortune of the people. Similarly, Shri Krishna killed Kamsa, Jarâsandha, and others who were tyrants, but not a single one of his deeds was done for himself. Every one of them was for the good of others. We are reading the Gita by candle-light, but numbers of insects are being burnt to death. Thus it is seen that some evil clings to work. Those who work without any consciousness of their lower ego are not affected with evil, for they work for the good of the world. To work without motive, to work unattached, brings the highest bliss and freedom. This secret of Karma-Yoga is taught by the Lord Shri Krishna in the Gita.

How to follow the ideal of Nishkama Karma

Swami Vivekananda suggested—
We say that we cannot do good without at the same time doing some evil, or do evil without doing some good. Knowing this, how can we work? There have, therefore, been sects in this world who have in an astoundingly preposterous way preached slow suicide as the only means to get out of the world, because if a man lives, he has to kill poor little animals and plants or do injury to something or some one. So according to them the only way out of the world is to die. The Jains have preached this doctrine as their highest ideal. This teaching seems to be very logical. But the true solution is found in the Gita. It is the theory of non-attachment, to be attached to nothing while doing our work of life. Know that you are separated entirely from the world, though you are in the world, and that whatever you may be doing in it, you are not doing that for your own sake. Any action that you do for yourself will bring its effect to bear upon you. If it is a good action, you will have to take the good effect, and if bad, you will have to take the bad effect; but any action that is not done for your own sake, whatever it be, will have no effect on you. There is to be found a very expressive sentence in our scriptures embodying this idea: "Even if he kill the whole universe (or be himself killed), he is neither the killer nor the killed, when he knows that he is not acting for himself at all." Therefore Karma-Yoga teaches, "Do not give up the world; live in the world, imbibe its influences as much as you can; but if it be for your own enjoyment's sake, work not at all."

More Vivekananda quotations on the theme Nishkama Karma
  • In the Gitâ Shri Krishna says — men should work for work's sake only, and love for love's sake.[Source]
  • You who have read the Gitâ see all through the book that the one idea is non-attachment.[Source]

See also

We recommend to read this article too—
  1. Karmanyevadhikaraste Ma Phaleshu Kadacana

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24 May 2014

Greatness Of Bhagavad Gita

In this website we have been preparing a series of articles on Swami Vivekananda's quotes and comments on Bhagavad Gita.

In this article our topic is Swami Vivekananda's quotes and comments on greatness of Bhagavad Gita.

Greatness of Bhagavad Gita
Krishna instructing Arjuna in Kurukshetrea
Image source: Wikimedia Commons
Swami Vivekananda told—
  • First see the irony of it. Jesus Christ, the God of the Europeans, has taught: Have no enemy, bless them that curse you; whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also; stop all your work and be ready for the next world; the end of the world is near at hand. And our Lord in the Gita is saying: Always work with great enthusiasm, destroy your enemies and enjoy the world. But, after all, it turned out to be exactly the reverse of what Christ or Krishna implied. The Europeans never took the words of Jesus Christ seriously. Always of active habits, being possessed of a tremendous Râjasika nature, they are gathering with great enterprise and youthful ardour the comforts and luxuries of the different countries of the world and enjoying them to their hearts' content. And we are sitting in a corner, with our bag and baggage, pondering on death day and night, and singing," नलिनीदलगतजलमतितरलं तद्वज्जीवितमतिशयचपलम्—Very tremulous and unsteady is the water on the lotus-leaf; so is the life of man frail and transient"—with the result that it is making our blood run cold and our flesh creep with the fear of Yama, the god of death; and Yama, too, alas, has taken us at our word, as it were—plague and all sorts of maladies have entered into our country! Who are following the teachings of the Gita?—the Europeans. And who are acting according to the will of Jesus Christ?—The descendants of Shri Krishna! This must be well understood.[Source]
  • Take the Sermon on the Mount and the Gita -- they are simplicity itself. Even the streetwalker can understand them. How grand! In them you find the truth clearly and simply revealed.[Source]
  • The greatest incident of the war was the marvellous and immortal poem of the Gitâ, the Song Celestial. It is the popular scripture of India and the loftiest of all teachings. It consists of a dialogue held by Arjuna with Krishna, just before the commencement of the fight on the battle-field of Kurukshetra. I would advise those of you who have not read that book to read it. If you only knew how much it has influenced your own country even! If you want to know the source of Emerson's inspiration, it is this book, the Gita. He went to see Carlyle, and Carlyle made him a present of the Gita; and that little book is responsible for the Concord Movement. All the broad movements in America, in one way or other, are indebted to the Concord party.[Source]
  • The Bhagavad-Gita . . . is the best commentary we have on the Vedanta philosophy — curiously enough the scene is laid on the battlefield, where Krishna teaches this philosophy to Arjuna; and the doctrine which stands out luminously in every page of the Gita is intense activity, but in the midst of it, eternal calmness.[Source]
  • The Gita is a commentary on the Upanishads. The Upanishads are the Bible of India. They occupy the same place as the New Testament does.[Source]
  • The Gita is like a bouquet composed of the beautiful flowers of spiritual truths collected from the Upanishads.[Source]
  • The Gita is the gist of the Vedas. It is not our Bible; the Upanishads are our Bible. It [the Gita] is the gist of the Upanishads and harmonizes the many contradictory parts of the Upanishads.[Source]
  • The Gita is to the Hindus what the New Testament is to the Christians.[Source]
  • The greatness of little things, that is what the Gita teaches — bless the old book!! . . .[Source]
  • The reconciliation of the different paths of Dharma, and work without desire or attachment — these are the two special characteristics of the Gita.[Source]
  • The restless Western atheist or agnostic finds in the Gita or in the Dhammapada the only place where his soul can anchor.[Source]
  • The teachings of Krishna as taught by the Gita are the grandest the world has ever known. He who wrote that wonderful poem was one of those rare souls whose lives sent a wave of regeneration through the world. The human race will never again see such a brain as his who wrote the Gita.[Source]

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23 May 2014

Vivekananda Image Quotes - Archive 09

This is an archive of Swami Vivekananda's Image Quote Of The Day. The most recent quotes may be seen in that page.

20 May 2014

We must not only tolerate others, but positively embrace them, and that truth is the basis of all religions.

19 May 2014

If education is identical with information, the libraries are the greatest sages in the world, and encyclopaedias are the Rishis.

18 May 2014

The Bhakta (devotee) renounces all little loves for the almighty and omnipresent love.

17 May 2014

It is all play. . . .  [You may say,] "We have to do something; let us do good."  [But] who cares for good and evil?  Play! God Almighty plays. That is all.

16 May 2014

Not a work will be lost, no struggle vain. . .

15 May 2014

Mystery mongering and superstition are always signs of weakness.

14 May 2014

Forget yourselves; this is the first lesson to be learnt, whether you are a theist or an atheist, whether you are an agnostic or a Vedantist, a Christian or a Mohammedan.

13 May 2014

The purification of the body by water, earth, or other materials is the external purification, as bathing etc. Purification of the mind by truth, and by all the other virtues, is what is called internal purification.

12 May 2014

When Adam fell, he fell from purity

11 May 2014

Truce to foolish talk; talk of the Lord. Life is too short to be spent in talking about frauds and cranks.

10 May 2014

Never lose faith in yourself, you can do anything in this universe. Never weaken, all power is yours.

9 May 2014

All knowledge and all power are within and not without.

8 May 2014

Every individual has in himself perfection. It lies within the dark recesses of his physical being.

7 May 2014

The heart must be pure and the pure heart sees only good, never evil.

6 May 2014

Remember the words of Jesus: "The Kingdom of Heaven is at hand!"

5 May 2014

. . . Hold on with faith and strength; be true, be honest, be pure, and don't quarrel among yourselves. Jealousy is the bane of our race.

4 May 2014

It is not the law of nature to be always taking gifts with outstretched hands like beggars. To give and take is the law of nature.

3 May 2014

Be pure first, and you will have power. Simply saying, "I am a Rishi", will not do; but when you are a Rishi you will find that others obey you instinctively.

2 May 2014

The law of Karma is the law of causation.

1 May 2014

All hatred is "killing the self by the self"; therefore, love is the law of life.


This article is a sub article of Swami Vivekananda's Image Quote Of The Day and a sub-article of

Portal image
Portal:Image quote

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21 May 2014

Liberty Is The First Condition Of Growth

To prepare articles for this website we regularly need to study Complete Works of Swami Vivekananda and many other books, articles, journals. When I was preparing an article on Swami Vivekananda's quotations on growth, I found the following quotation—
Liberty is the first condition of growth.
(Yes, I know that every person has "his" or "her" opinion), still, in my opinion, it is a terrific quote. In life, in society or in a country, "growth" of any individual or a group is just not possible if there is no "liberty", no "freedom".

Swami Vivekananda discussed this idea "Liberty is the first condition of growth" several times. In this article our attempt will be making a collection of these quotations.

Liberty is the first condition of growth
A woman sitting
Allegory of French Revolution
Image source: Wikimedia Commons
According to Swami Vivekananda—
  • Freedom is the only condition of growth; take that off, the result is degeneration.[Source]
  • Liberty is the first condition of growth. Just as man must have liberty to think and speak, so he must have liberty in food, dress, and marriage, and in every other thing, so long as he does not injure others.[Source]
  • There cannot be any growth without liberty. Our ancestors freed religious thought, and we have a wonderful religion. But they put a heavy chain on the feet of society, and our society is, in a word, horrid, diabolical. In the West, society always had freedom, and look at them. On the other hand, look at their religion.[Source]
  • What else can they be under the existing social bandages, especially in Madras? Liberty is the first condition of growth. Your ancestors gave every liberty to the soul, and religion grew. They put the body under every bondage, and society did not grow. The opposite is the case in the West — every liberty to society, none to religion. Now are falling off the shackles from the feet of Eastern society as from those of Western religion. (From a letter written to Alasinga Perumal dated 29 September 1894)[Source]
  • You must remember that freedom is the first condition of growth. What you do not make free, will never grow. The idea that you can make others grow and help their growth, that you can direct and guide them, always retaining for yourself the freedom of the teacher, is nonsense, a dangerous lie which has retarded the growth of millions and millions of human beings in this world. Let men have the light of liberty. That is the only condition of growth.[Source]

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Félix Martí Ibáñez On Swami Vivekananda

Félix Martí-Ibáñez (25 December 1911 – 24 May 1972) was a physician, psychiatrist, academic, writer, and publisher. Some of his notable publications are Centaur: Essays on the History of Medical Ideas, The Epic of Medicine, To Be a Doctor, The Crystal Arrow: Essays on Literature, Travel, Art, Love, and the History of Medicine, The Mirror of Souls, and Other Essays etc. A detailed biography of Ibáñez is available at Wikipedia. In this article our topic is Félix Martí-Ibáñez's quotes and comments on Swami Vivekananda.

Dr. Félix Martí-Ibáñez told—
A young man
Image source: Estel Negre
Dr. Félix Martí Ibáñez was talking on "the most valuable thing in his life" and he told—
Life itself. Health and dreams and love. ...If what is meant by 'things', however, is something concrete in physical form, then I would have to say books. I was actually once put to the test of what I value most. It was in February 1939, when I had to leave Spain because of the fall of the Spanish Republic and all I could take with me was what I could carry. I chose to take one book. From the thousands of books in the library I have so lovingly built up with my father, I selected The Universal Gospel and The Life of Vivekananda by Romain Rolland. That uniquely magnificent mystical book inspired me through the years to dedicate my life to the service of others.


  1. Ibáñez, Félix Martí (1966). The Mirror of Souls, and Other Essays. Clarkson N. Potter. p. 310, ISBN 978-0-517-50120-7.

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20 May 2014

Swami Vivekananda And John D. Rockefeller

John D. Rockefeller or John Davison Rockefeller, Senior. (8 July 1839 – 23 May 1937) was an American businessman. He was a co-founder of the Standard Oil Company and became one of the world's wealthiest men of his time. In his later life he became a very well-known philanthropist.

Our this article's topic is Swami Vivekananda and John D. Rockefeller.

Madame Emma Calvé told the following event to Madame Drinette Verdier (see "Reference" #4 below)

Swami Vivekananda and John D. Rockefeller

1st day

Swami Vivekanada, standing
Image source: Wikimedia Commons
Once[1] John D. Rockefeller heard from his friends that Swami Vivekananda was staying in Chicago. His friends suggested him to meet the "extraordinary Indian monk", but initially Rockefeller was not interested to do so. He was a strong-willed person and everyone knew that it was almost impossible to change his opinion or decision. But, finally one day Rockefeller somehow decided to go and meet the Swami.

Rockefeller went to the house in Chicago where Vivekananda was residing and informed the butler of the house that he wanted to meet the Swami. The butler asked him to wait at the living room, but Rockefeller ignored the request and decided to go to study room directly.

Rockefeller entered the study room and found Vivekananda was seating at his writing table and writing something on a paper. Vivekananda did not even lift his eyes from the writing pad to see who had entered. Rockefeller went forward and stood in front of the writing tabel.

After a while, Vivekananda, without lifting his eyes from his writing papers, started telling Rockefeller about his past, secret events and incidents, his anxities etc. These were unknown to even closest friends or Rockefeller. Then Vivekananda told him in a polite way that the huge amount of wealth he had accumulated was not his own, but that was only an opportunity for him, given by God, by which he could serve the society by helping poor and distressed people. Finally Vivekananda suggested him spend his money for the welfare of the society.

Rockefeller was clearly annoyed. He never thought that anyone could dare to talk to him in that way. He left the study room, not even bidding a goodbye.

2nd day

About a week later Rockefeller returned to house where Vivekananda was staying and entered the study room. This time too he found Vivekananda busy with his writing and reading works. This time he brought a copy of a newspaper of the day with him that mentioned his pledge to donate a huge amount of money to a public institution.

He put the newspaper on Vivekananda's study table and then said—
There you are. You must be satisfied now. You can also thank me for this.
Swami Vivekananda, who had not lifted his eyes from his writing papers and books so far, picked up the newspaper and started reading the news article.

After finishing his reading, he quietly said—
Why should I thank you? Rather you should thank me for providing the suggestion.

This was Rockefellers' first large donation towards humanity.

See also

You just read Vivekananda's comment "Why should I thank you? Rather you should thank me for providing the suggestion.". Here is a related article—
  1. Art of giving — suggested by Swami Vivekananda


We have studied the following books—
  1. Bornstein, Erica (30 May 2012). Disquieting Gifts: Humanitarianism in New Delhi. Stanford University Press. pp. 34–. ISBN 978-0-8047-8208-1.
  2. Chattopadhyaya, Rajagopal (1 January 1999). Swami Vivekananda in India: A Corrective Biography. Motilal Banarsidass Publ. pp. 339–. ISBN 978-81-208-1586-5.
  3. Sankar (2011). Indian Ethos And Values In Management. McGraw-Hill Education (India) Pvt Limited. pp. 238–. ISBN 978-0-07-106779-9. 
  4. New Discoveries, Burke, Mary Loiuse (Sister Gargi) Vol. 1, pp. 487-88, Immediate source: Vivekananda, Swami, Complete Works, Volume IX


  1. "Once" is a vague word. You may surely ask "When?" Well, we do not the exact date and month. We have studied 3-4 books, but could not find this information anywhere. But most probably, it was  1894. Emma Calvé met Vivekananda for the first time in Chicago in early 1894. Rockefeller went to meet Vivekananda after that.

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Benoy Kumar Sarkar On Swami Vivekananda

Benoy Kumar Sarkar,  (Bengali: বিনয় কুমার সরকার 1887–1949) or B. K. Sarkar was an Indian sociologist, economist and writer. He worked as a professor at the Department of Economics of University of Calcutta. Some of his publications are— 1921 The Positive Background of Hindu Sociology, The beginning of Hindu culture as world-power, Chinese Religion Through Hindu Eyes etc. A detailed biography of Sarkar is available at Wikipedia.

In this article our topic is Benoy Kumar Sarkar's quotes and comments on Swami Vivekananda.

A Bengali young man, headshot, black and white image
Benoy Kumar Sarkar
Image source: SAADA
Benoy Kumar Sarkar told—
If we look upon Ramakrishna as the Buddha of our time, Vivekananda may pass for one or other of the great apostles of yore, say, the scholar Rahula, the constitutional authority Upali, the devoted lieutenant Ananda, the sage Sariputta, or that master of discourses, Mahakachchayana. One can almost say that Vivekananda was all these great Buddhist preacher organizers boiled down into one personality.

...He was much more than a mere exponent of Vedanta, or Ramakrishna, or Hinduism, or Indian Culture. ...In all his thoughts and activities he was expressing only himself. He always preached his own experiences. It is the truths discovered by him in his own life that he propagated through his literature and institutions. As a modern philosopher he can be properly evaluated solely if one places him by the side of Dewey, Russell, Croce, Spranger, and Bergson. It would be doing Vivekananda injustice and misinterpreting him hopelessly if he were placed in the perspective of scholars whose chief or sole merit consists in editing, translating, paraphrasing or popularizing the teachings of Plato, Asvaghosa, Plotinus, Nagarjuna, Aquinas, Shankaracharya and others.

Sarkar also told—
With five words he conquered the world when he addressed men and women as 'Ye divinities on earth,—Sinners?' The first four words thundered into being the gospel of joy, hope, virility, energy and freedom for the races of men, and yet with the last word, embodying as it did a sarcastic question, he demolished the whole structure of soul-degenerating, cowardice-promoting, negative, pessimistic thoughts. On the astonished world the little five-word formula fell like a bombshell. The first four words he brought from the East, and the last word he brought from the West. All these are oft-repeated expressions, copy-book phrases both in the East and the West. And yet never in the annals of human thought was the juxtaposition accomplished before Vivekananda did it in this dynamic manner and obtained instantaneous recognition as a world’s champion.

Vivekananda’s gospel here is that of energism, of mastery over the world, of elan vital subduing conditions that surround life, of creative intelligence and will, of courage trampling down cowardice, of world-conquest. And those who are acquainted with the trends of world-thought since the middle of the nineteenth century are aware that it was just along these lines that the West was groping in the dark to find a solution. A most formidable exponent of these wants and shortcomings was the German man of letters and critic, Nietzsche (on whom the influence of Manu was powerful), whose...works had awakened mankind to the need of a more positive, humane and joyous life’s philosophy than that of the New Testament. This joy of life for which the religious, philosophical and social thought was anxiously waiting came suddenly from an unexpected quarter, from this unknown young man of India. And Vivekananda was acclaimed as a tremendous creative power, as the pioneer of a revolution,—the positive and constructive counterpart to the destructive criticism of Nietzsche....

The key to Vivekananda’s entire life ... is to be found in this Sakti-yoga, energism, the vigour and strength of freedom. All his thoughts and activities are expressions of his energism. Like our Pauranik Visvamitra or the Aeschylean Prometheus he wanted to create new worlds and distribute the fire of freedom, happiness, divinity and immortality among men and women.

Sarkar observed—
His [Vivekananda] politics and economics are all to be found in his social philosophy. And in this domain we encounter Vivekananda as the messenger of modern materialism. It is possible to establish here an equation between Vivekananda and Immanuel Kant. ...What Kant did for Euro-America towards the end of the eighteenth century was accomplished for India towards the end of the nineteenth century by Vivekananda. Kant is the father of modern materialism for the West. Vivekananda is the father of modern materialism for India. ...It is to them that the world is indebted for the charters of dignity for Nature, matter, material science and material welfare. ...India like Europe was in need of a man who could say with all honesty he could command that Prakriti was no less sacred than Purusha and that the pursuit of material sciences and material prosperity was as godly as that of the sciences and activities bearing on the soul.


  • Creative India, Sarkar, Benoy Kumar, 1937, pp. 671–673
  • Vivekananda, Kant and Modern MaterialismCalcutta Review April 1939, Prabuddha Bharata April 1939

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19 May 2014

Harmony Of Religions

The Christian is not to become a Hindu or a Buddhist, nor a Hindu or a Buddhist to become a Christian. But each must assimilate the spirit of the others and yet preserve his individuality and grow according to his own law of growth.
Swami Vivekananda uttered these words on 27 September 1893, at the final session of the Parliament of the World's Religions.[Source]

In this article our topic is Swami Vivekananda's quotes and comments on harmony of religions.

Swami Vivekananda's quotes on Harmony of Religions
Image source: Wikimedia Commons
Swami Vivekananda told—
  • Do I wish that the Christian would become Hindu? God forbid. Do I wish that the Hindu or Buddhist would become Christian? God forbid.[Source]
  • I am proud to belong to a religion which has taught the world both tolerance and universal acceptance. We believe not only in universal toleration, but we accept all religions as true. I am proud to belong to a nation which has sheltered the persecuted and the refugees of all religions and all nations of the earth. I am proud to tell you that we have gathered in our bosom the purest remnant of the Israelites, who came to Southern India and took refuge with us in the very year in which their holy temple was shattered to pieces by Roman tyranny. I am proud to belong to the religion which has sheltered and is still fostering the remnant of the grand Zoroastrian nation. I will quote to you, brethren, a few lines from a hymn which I remember to have repeated from my earliest boyhood, which is every day repeated by millions of human beings: "As the different streams having their sources in different places all mingle their water in the sea, so, O Lord, the different paths which men take through different tendencies, various though they appear, crooked or straight, all lead to Thee."[Source]
  • If there is ever to be a universal religion, it must be one which will have no location in place or time; which will be infinite like the God it will preach, and whose sun will shine upon the followers of Krishna and of Christ, on saints and sinners alike; which will not be Brahminic or Buddhistic, Christian or Mohammedan, but the sum total of all these, and still have infinite space for development; which in its catholicity will embrace in its infinite arms, and find a place for, every human being, from the lowest grovelling savage not far removed from the brute, to the highest man towering by the virtues of his head and heart almost above humanity, making society stand in awe of him and doubt his human nature. It will be a religion which will have no place for persecution or intolerance in its polity, which will recognise divinity in every man and woman, and whose whole scope, whose whole force, will be created in aiding humanity to realise its own true, divine nature.[Source]
  • In all religions the superconscious state is identical. Hindus, Christians, Mohammedans, Buddhists, and even those of no creed, all have the very same experience when they transcend the body. . . .[Source]
  • My Master taught that religion is one; all prophets teach the same; but they can only present the principle in a form; so they take it out of the old form and put it before us in a new one.[Source]
  • The greatest misfortune to befall the world would be if all mankind were to recognise and accept but one religion, one universal form of worship, one standard of morality. This would be the death-blow to all religious and spiritual progress. Instead of trying to hasten this disastrous event by inducing persons, through good or evil methods, to conform to our own highest ideal of truth, we ought rather to endeavour to remove all obstacles which prevent men from developing in accordance with their own highest ideals, and thus make their attempt vain to establish one universal religion.[Source]
  • The Christian is not to become a Hindu or a Buddhist, nor a Hindu or a Buddhist to become a Christian. But each must assimilate the spirit of the others and yet preserve his individuality and grow according to his own law of growth.[Source]
  • The ultimate goal of all mankind, the aim and end of all religions, is but one—re-union with God, or, what amounts to the same, with the divinity which is every man's true nature. But while the aim is one, the method of attaining may vary with the different temperaments of men.[Source]
  • The varieties of religious belief are an advantage, since all faiths are good,so far as they encourage man to lead a religious life. The more sects there are, the more opportunities there are for making successful appeals to the divine instinct in all men.[Source]
  • We must not only tolerate others, but positively embrace them, and that truth is the basis of all religions.[Source]

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Pavhari Baba And A Thief

Pavhari Baba (??—1898) was an Indian ascetic and a Hatha Yoga practitioner. In February 1890, Narendranath (pre-monastic name of Swami Vivekananda) went to Ghazipur and met Pavhari Baba.

A thief's attempt to rob Pavhari baba's hermitage
Image source: Wikimedia Commons
When Narendranath was staying in Ghazipur, he heard the following story—

One night a thief entered the underground hermitage of Pavhari Baba to steal some valuable belongings from the place. Baba was sleeping at that time and the thief started stealing and collecting goods in a bundle.

As the thief finished his act of stealing and was ready to leave the place with the stolen goods, Baba woke up. The thief got frightened, he threw down the bundle where he collected all stolen goods and started running. Pavhari Baba promptly picked up the bundle from the ground and started chasing the thief.

After a long chase, Pavhari Baba finally caught the thief. The thief thought that Pavhari Baba was going to beat him badly. But surprisingly, Pavhari Baba folded his hands before him and then told in a humble way—
Sir, I noticed you worked hard to collect these goods from the hermitage, but somehow you could not bring this bundle with you. So, I have taken this for you. Please accept this. These are all your Narayana (God).
Saying this Pavhari Baba handed over the bundle with stolen goods to the thief. The thief stared at Baba with disbelief and surprise. He was wonderstruck and started feeling ashamed for his act.

When Narendranath heard about this incident, he did not fully believe it. Nor we find any mention of this in his letters written in 1890.

Vivekananda's meeting with a Sadhu of a high order
Years later Swami Vivekananda was wandering in the Himalayas and one day he met a Sadhu. After some conversations with the Sadhu, Vivekananda understood that the Sadhu was of a very high order.

But Vivekananda was very much astonished when the Sadhu told him—
I was the thief who attempted to rob Pavhari Baba's place. When Pavhari Baba chased me and handed over all the goods he had and called me Narayana, I could not believe it, I started realising how mean I was and the crime I was committing. Then I renounced everything and came to this place of the Himalayas and started meditating.

Swami Vivekananda's recount
This story, specially the Sadhu's confession deeply impressed Swami Vivekananda. He himself mentioned about this experience too.

From Sketch of the Life of Pavhari Baba[Source]
. . . everyone has heard of the thief who had come to steal from his Ashrama, and who at the sight of the saint got frightened and ran away, leaving the goods he had stolen in a bundle behind; how the saint took the bundle up, ran after the thief, and came up to him after miles of hard running; how the saint laid the bundle at the feet of the thief, and with folded hands and tears in his eyes asked his pardon for his own intrusion, and begged hard for his acceptance of the goods, since they belonged to him, and not to himself.


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18 May 2014

Swami Vivekananda's Reading Speed And Memory Power

Swami Vivekananda reportedly had eidetic or photographic memory. He himself explained—[Source]
Do you see, simply by the observance of strict Brahmacharya (continence) all learning can be mastered in a very short time -- one has an unfailing memory of what one hears or knows but once. It is owing to this want of continence that everything is on the brink of ruin in our country.
 In this article our topic Swami Vivekananda's reading speed and memory power.

1890 Meerut, The librarian experience
Swami Vivekananda, as a Wanderink monk
Image source: Wikimedia Commons
In November 1890, Narendranath (pre-monastic name of Swami Vivekananda) went to Meerut. At that time, some of Narendranath's brother-disciples were staying in Meerut. One of them was Swami Abhedananda.

Narendranath had been a  "voracious reader" from his childhood and used to spend much time in reading. Now, during the stay in Meerut, Narendranath, through brother disciple Swami Abhedananda, used to borrow and read one book from local library every day and return it the following day.

The local librarian was not ready to accept that Narendranath was reading the books, he thought that he was not reading anything at all and it was only an attempt to impress others. One day he clearly expressed his doubt to Swami Abhedananda.

Narendranath, upon hearing this, went to the librarian and told him, politely— "Sir, I have read all the books very attentively. If you have any doubt, you may ask me any question you like from these books we had borrowed."

The librarian asked him a series of questions and Narendranath correctly answered each of them. The librarian was highly surprised.

Ajit Singh's experience
Narendranath went to Khetri and stayed there between 7 June 1891 to 27 October 1891 (more info)

After the librarian of Meerut, most probably Raja Ajit Singh of Khetri was the second person to witness Narendranath's reading mode. He carefully observed that while reading a book Narendranath just used to turn over the pages of it, very quickly, from beginning to end— and that was his reading, he finished reading the entire book.

A curious Ajit Singh asked Narendranath how was that possible. Narendranath explained that when a child starts reading, he reads one letter or alphabet at a time, and when he reads that one alphabet, his whole attention is focused on it. Gradually the child grows up, and with practice, and now he can easily read one word or two-three words at a time. Likewise, if someone goes on increasing his concentration power, he becomes able to read an entire page of a book in just a glance.
He also told to achieve such power three things are absolutely needed— a) continence, b) practice, c) concentration.

Haripada Mitra, The Pickwick Papers
Haripada Mitra, a Sub-divisonal Forest Officer of Belgaum, too had similar experience. Swami Vivekananda astonished him by reciting a large portion from Charles Dickens' first novel The Pickwick Papers. Mitra was more surprised when Narendranath told him that he had read the book only twice.

Haripada Mitra recounted—
One day, in the course of a talk, Swamiji quoted verbatim some two or three pages from Pickwick Papers. I wondered at this, not understanding how a Sannyasin could get by heart so much from a secular book. I thought that he must have read it quite a number of times before he took orders. When questioned he said, 'I read it twice—once when I was in school, and again some five or six months back.' Then how do you remember,' I asked in wonder, 'and why can we not remember thus?' One has to read with full attention,' he explained, 'and one must not fritter away the energy one draws from food.'

Encyclopædia Britannica
In 1901, Swami Vivekananda was physically unwell and was staying at Belur Math, West Bengal. A new set of 12 volumes of the then newly published Encyclopædia Britannica had recently been bought for the Math's library.

One day Sharatchandra Chakravarti, a disciple of Swami Vivekananda, came to his room to meet him. Seeing the large volumes of the Encyclopædia Britannica, he told—
It is indeed very difficult to read so many volumes in one lifetime.
Swami Vivekananda immediately replied—
What do you mean? . . .  Ask me any question from the first 10 volumes I have already read.
Chakravarti asked Vivekananda a number of questions from each volume of the Encyclopædia. Every time Vivekananda answered correctly, and not only that, several times he even quoted exact words used in the book.

From Diary of a disciple

Sharatchandra Chakravarti wrote about this event in his book Diary of a disciple
A few days ago, a new set of the Encyclopaedia Britannica had been bought for the Math. Seeing the new shining volumes, the disciple said to Swamiji, "It is almost impossible to read all these books in a single lifetime." He was unaware that Swamiji had already finished ten volumes and had begun the eleventh.

Swamiji: What do you say? Ask me anything you like from these ten volumes, and I will answer you all.

The disciple asked in wonder, "Have you read all these books?"

Swamiji: Why should I ask you to question me otherwise?

Being examined, Swamiji not only reproduced the sense, but at places the very language of the difficult topics selected from each volume. The disciple, astonished, put aside the books, saying, "This is not within human power!"

Swamiji: Do you see, simply by the observance of strict Brahmacharya (continence) all learning can be mastered in a very short time — one has an unfailing memory of what one hears or knows but once. It is owing to this want of continence that everything is on the brink of ruin in our country.

Disciple: Whatever you may say, sir, the manifestation of such superhuman power cannot be the result of mere Brahmacharya, something else there must be.

Swamiji did not say anything in reply.


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Worship Jiva As Shiva; Worship The Living God

These are the last few lines of Swami Vivekananda's poem To a Friend
These are His manifold forms before thee,
Rejecting them, where seekest thou for God?
Who loves all beings without distinction,
He indeed is worshipping best his God.
This poem was actually written in Bengali language (Bengali: সখার প্রতি). The original Bengali lines—
বহুরূপে সম্মুখে তোমার, ছাড়ি কোথা খুঁজিছ ঈশ্বর ?
জীবে প্রেম করে যেই জন, সেই জন সেবিছে ঈশ্বর ।। 

Swami Vivekananda asked to worship the living God. He told—[Source]
. . . forget not that the lower classes, the ignorant, the poor, the illiterate, the cobbler, the sweeper, are thy flesh and blood, thy brothers.

According to Mohit Chakrabarti, writer of Swami Vivekananda, Poetic Visionary
Vivekananda's concept of the living God has given a newer dimension of humanism and the spirit of humanism that he proclaims and preaches bears testimony to his untiring zeal for familiarizing humankind with the infinite reflections of the All Serene in every nook and corner of the world.
In this article we'll attempt to make a collection of Swami Vivekananda's quotations and comments on his humanitarian concept worshipping jiva as Shiva, worshipping of the living God.

Worship the living God
Krishna Vishwarupa, a very large human figure with many hands, many heads
Image source: Wikimedia Commons
Swami Vivekananda told—
  • After so much austerity, I have understood this as the real truth -- god is present in every Jiva; there is no other God besides that. `Who serves Jiva, serves God indeed'." After some pause Swamiji, addressing the disciple, said, "What I have told you today, inscribe in your heart. See that you do not forget it.[Source]
  • Bring all light into the world. Light, bring light! Let light come unto every one; the task will not be finished till every one has reached the Lord. Bring light to the poor and bring more light to the rich, for they require it more than the poor. Bring light to the ignorant, and more light to the educated, for the vanities of the education of our time are tremendous! Thus bring light to all and leave the rest unto the Lord, for in the words of the same Lord "To work you have the right and not to the fruits thereof." "Let not your work produce results for you, and at the same time may you never be without work."[Source]
  • Doing good to others is virtue (Dharma); injuring others is sin. Strength and manliness are virtue; weakness and cowardice are sin. Independence is virtue; dependence is sin. Loving others is virtue; hating others is sin. Faith in God and in one's own Self is virtue; doubt is sin. Knowledge of oneness is virtue; seeing diversity is sin. The different scriptures only show the means of attaining virtue.[Source]
  • If in this hell of a world one can bring a little joy and peace even for a day into the heart of a single person, that much alone is true; this I have learnt after suffering all my life; all else is mere moonshine. . . .[Source]
  • If one millionth part of the men and women who live in this world simply sit down and for a few minutes say, "You are all God, O ye men and O ye animals and living beings, you are all the manifestations of the one living Deity!" the whole world will be changed in half an hour. Instead of throwing tremendous bomb-shells of hatred into every corner, instead of projecting currents of jealousy and of evil thought, in every country people will think that it is all He. He is all that you see and feel. How can you see evil until there is evil in you? How can you see the thief, unless he is there, sitting in the heart of your heart? How can you see the murderer until you are yourself the murderer? Be good, and evil will vanish for you. The whole universe will thus be changed. This is the greatest gain to society.[Source]
  • If you want any good to come, just throw your ceremonials overboard and worship the Living God, the Man-God—every being that wears a human form—God in His universal as well as individual aspect. The universal aspect of God means this world, and worshipping it means serving it—this indeed is work, not indulging in ceremonials. Neither is it work to cogitate as to whether the rice-plate should be placed in front of the God for ten minutes or for half an hour—that is called lunacy. Millions of rupees have been spent only that the templedoors at Varanasi or Vrindaban may play at opening and shutting all day long! Now the Lord is having His toilet, now He is taking His meals, now He is busy on something else we know not what. ... And all this, while the Living God is dying for want of food, for want of education! The banias of Bombay are erecting hospitals for bugs—while they would do nothing for men even if they die! You have not the brain to understand this simple thing—that it is a plague with our country, and lunatic asylums are rife all over. ... Let some of you spread like fire, and preach this worship of the universal aspect of the Godhead—a thing that was never undertaken before in our country. No quarrelling with people, we must be friends with all. ...[Source]
  • Look upon every man, woman, and every one as God. You cannot help anyone, you can only serve: serve the children of the Lord, serve the Lord Himself, if you have the privilege. If the Lord grants that you can help any one of His children, blessed you are; do not think too much of yourselves. Blessed you are that that privilege was given to you when others had it not. Do it only as a worship. I should see God in the poor, and it is for my salvation that I go and worship them. The poor and the miserable are for our salvation, so that we may serve the Lord, coming in the shape of the diseased, coming in the shape of the lunatic, the leper, and the sinner! Bold are my words; and let me repeat that it is the greatest privilege in our life that we are allowed to serve the Lord in all these shapes. Give up the idea that by ruling over others you can do any good to them. But you can do just as much as you can in the case of the plant; you can supply the growing seed with the materials for the making up of its body, bringing to it the earth, the water, the air, that it wants. It will take all that it wants by its own nature. It will assimilate and grow by its own nature.[Source]
  • My children, the secret of religion lies not in theories but in practice. To be good and to do good — that is the whole of religion. "Not he that crieth 'Lord', 'Lord', but he that doeth the will of the Father".[Source]
  • The first of all worship is the worship of the Virat — of those all around us. Worship It. Worship is the exact equivalent of the Sanskrit word, and no other English word will do. These are all our gods — men and animals; and the first gods we have to worship are our countrymen. These we have to worship, instead of being jealous of each other and fighting each other. It is the most terrible Karma for which we are suffering, and yet it does not open our eyes![Source]
  • This is the gist of all worship — to be pure and to do good to others. He who sees Shiva in the poor, in the weak, and in the diseased, really worships Shiva; and if he sees Shiva only in the image, his worship is but preliminary. He who has served and helped one poor man seeing Shiva in him, without thinking of his caste, or creed, or race, or anything, with him Shiva is more pleased than with the man who sees Him only in temples.[Source]
  • We want to worship a living God. I have seen nothing but God all my life, nor have you. To see this chair you first see God, and then the chair in and through Him He is everywhere saying, "I am". The moment you feel "I am", you are conscious of Existence. Where shall we go to find God if we cannot see Him in our own hearts and in every living being? "Thou art the man, Thou art the woman, Thou art the girl, and Thou art the boy. Thou art the old man tottering with a stick. Thou art the young man walking in the pride of his strength." Thou art all that exists, a wonderful living God who is the only fact in the universe. This seems to many to be a terrible contradiction to the traditional God who lives behind a veil somewhere and whom nobody ever sees. The priests only give us an assurance that if we follow them, listen to their admonitions, and walk in the way they mark out for us — then when we die, they will give us a passport to enable us to see the face of God! What are all these heaven ideas but simply modifications of this nonsensical priestcraft?[Source]
  • You must give your body, mind, and speech to "the welfare of the world". You have read— "मातृदेवो भव, पिरृदेवो भव — Look upon your mother as God, look upon your father as God" — but I say "दरिद्रदेवो भव, मूर्खदेवो भव — The poor, the illiterate, the ignorant, the afflicted — let these be your God." Know that service to these alone is the highest religion.[Source]


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