In the late eighteen hundreds Swami Vivekananda started the ground work for the Ramakrishna Math. He had a bold vision of monastic life adapting ancient monastic ideals to the conditions of modern life. He was well known as a social reformer who gave equal importance to personal spiritual progress and social service. This is the year the 150th birthday of this world renowned wandering monk. His trust in the power of  the youth in healing a crippled society, with their ability to reform local customs stands in stark contrast with today’s political leaders driving the younger generation away from traditional values and social solidarity. Political leaders of today have figured out that Swami Vivekananda’s ideals are a threat to their ways of leading if the youth catch on to Swami Vivekananda’s messages. They have adopted an approach of “Enshrine to Enchain” as the best way to keep the ideals of Swami Vivekananda away from today’s youth. His statues abound in every nook and corner of India, being garlanded with much fanfare by politicians.

Swami Vivekananda’s speech at the Chicago parliament of religions set a new equilibrium between western and eastern spirituality. Just in one speech he elevated the status of eastern spirituality to new levels. This speech made him many instant followers and helpers in the west who then took to studying eastern spirituality in an earnest. His spiritual master, Swami Ramakrishna, had seen in Swami Vivekananda this incredible power. He knew his ability to articulate truth that previously would be uttered only with a hesitation. He also saw in him the strength to translate his words into action. Vivekananda’s focus on his life’s mission made him enemies within the Theosophical society. The theosophical society was well recognized, by his intellectual contemporaries, as an organization that combined eastern and western thoughts. But Swami Vivekananda was intent in bringing out the strength of spirituality into action in the masses. Penniless and friendless on his arrival back from America he opted not to align himself with the approach of the Theosophical society.

Swami Vivekananda’s strength was his trust in his master, Swami Ramakrishna Paramahamsa. In eastern traditions, any spiritual strength that one gains is attributed to the grace of one’s Guru. This idea is to keep one’s ego at bay as one climbs the ladder of success. Humility and sincerity, remains in tact as one gains success and popularity. Therefore one continues to feel a sense of belonging to one’s fellow citizens. This concept has been much misrepresented in the modern text books. Swami Vivekananda’s personality was just the opposite of a submissive and powerless disciple. Neither was Swami Ramakrishna Paramahamsa one to usurp the glory as his own disciple. The popular misinterpretation of the guru-disciple relationship in media is moving more young folk away from it. Society is at loss from not having the strength of a life coach behind the growth of its young citizens. 

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