To honour Swami Vivekananda’s contributions to the country, the government in the year 1984, declared his birthday as National Youth Day (12th January).
- The main objective of NYD is to promote rational thinking among the youth. Youth is expected to rise to the values, principles and beliefs that Vivekananda lived by.
- The Government has been organising National Youth Festival (NYF) since 1995.
- The objective of NYF is to provide an arena where youth can interact and exchange their social and cultural uniqueness. This blend of diverse socio-cultural milieu proves belief in ‘Ek Bharat Shrestha Bharat’.
- The 26th National Youth Festival 2023 will be inaugurated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Hubbali, Karnataka on 12th January 2023.
About Swami Vivekananda –
- Swami Vivekananda was born Narendra Nath Datta, on 12th January, 1863. He was a monk and chief disciple of Ramakrishna Paramhansa.
- He introduced Indian philosophies of Vedanta and Yoga to the Western world and is credited with raising interfaith awareness, bringing Hinduism to the world stage during the late 19th century.
- He established Ramakrishna Mission in 1897 in Calcutta, named after his Guru Swami Ramakrishna Paramhansa. The institution did extensive educational and philanthropic work in India.
- He also represented India in the first Parliament of Religion held in Chicago (U.S.) in 1893.
Philosophy of Vedanta –
- It was based on Upanishads and their interpretation.
- Its aim was to enquire about ‘Brahman’ (ultimate reality) which was the central concept of Upanishads.
- It saw Veda as the ultimate source of information and whose authority could not be questioned.
- It emphasised on path of knowledge (jnana) as opposed to that of sacrifice (karma).
- Ultimate aim of knowledge was ‘Moksha’ i.e. liberation from ‘sansara’.
Swami Vivekananda –
- He is initially a western educated Brahmo Samajist in his young age. But the Brahmo movement failed to provide solutions to his spiritual quests.
- He became the disciple of Sri Ramakrishna whose Bhakti appealed to him more than the high intellectualism of Brahmos.
- He is a proponent of Practical Vedanta which he considered as a religion most suited to the needs of modern man. He believed in the essential unity of man and god (Advaita).
- He believed that it was only in selflessness and in consciously trying to serve the larger humanity that one truly gained a perspective on religion and God. This thought laid emphasis on the Karma Marga of Bhagavad-Gita.
- He reoriented the traditional Advaita of world renunciation to a new world affirmation ideal. He searched for salvation in selflessness.
- Many rivers flow by many ways but they fall into the same sea. This is the basis of Swamijis religious universalism and eclecticism.
Social reformer –
- In the first place he did not think man’s thought could truly turn to God unless his basic social needs had been reasonably met. He also considered it a sin to teach spirituality to a starving man.
- God is everywhere but he is most manifest in man. So serve man as God. That is as good as worshipping God. He joined together the ideals of one’s own salvation and welfare of the world.
- There is infinite moral and spiritual potential in man. To develop that potential is man’s foremost duty in life. He declared education to be the manifestation of divinity inherent to man.
- He was a critic of – Idolatry, Polytheism, Religious superstitions, Exploitation by priests in the religious sphere.
- He envisaged an equal role to women in society and promoted women emancipation and empowerment.
- He wanted a new man to emerge from the confluence of the spiritualism of the east and materialism of west.
Contribution to nationalism –
- Swami Vivekananda contributed enormously to the strengthening of Hindu self-pride and cultural nationalism.
- Vedanta was all about man-making. Manliness and activism are the gospels of swamiji for the resurgence of India.
- Young men and women, in his vision, were to be the building blocks of a resurgent, Vedantic India.
- He gave the call of self-sufficiency and self-help which he considered necessary for national regeneration.
- He inspired a whole generation of patriots and revolutionaries. He is considered a patron prophet by the revolutionaries of Bengal.
- He declared that India needs muscles of iron and nerves of steel to retain its lost glory and pride.