Swami Vivekananda, born as Narendranath Dutta, was a Hindu monk and a spiritual genius of India. He was born on 12th January 1863 into an aristocratic Bengali family. He was a devoted Hindu but not communal. He always projected Hinduism as a religion of both tolerance and universal acceptance. Swami Ji stood for social harmony and inter-faith dialogue .He was a thinker of thinkers. He was a chief disciple of Indian mystic Ramakrishna Parmahansa. He was the one who raised awareness among the people bringing about the concept of Yoga and Vedanta. He provided Hinduism a recognition at the International platform by representing India at the 1893 Parliament of the World Religions.
Here are three important stories that all of us can imbibe wisdom from
The Frog in the well
While addressing the audience at Chicago he narrated a short story in order to bring forth the cause of religious variance and acceptance which goes like:
A frog lived in a well. It had lived there for a long time. It was born there and brought up there, and yet was a little, small frog. Of course the evolutionists were not there then to tell us whether the frog lost its eyes or not, but, for our story’s sake, we must take it for granted that it had its eyes, and that it every day cleansed the water of all the worms and bacilli that lived in it with an energy that would do credit to our modern bacteriologists. In this way it went on and became a little sleek and fat. Well, one day another frog that lived in the sea came and fell into the well.
“Where are you from?”
“I am from the sea.”
“The sea! How big is that? Is it as big as my well?” and he took a leap from one side of the well to the other.
“My friend,” said the frog of the sea, “how do you compare the sea with your little well?”
Then the frog took another leap and asked, “Is your sea so big?” ”
What nonsense you speak, to compare the sea with your well!”
“Well, then,” said the frog of the well, “nothing can be bigger than my well; there can be nothing bigger than this; this fellow is a liar, so turn him out.”
Once a British asked Swami Vivekananda –
” Why can’t you wear proper clothes to look like a gentleman?”
Swami Vivekananda smiled and said-
” In your culture, a tailor makes a gentleman; but, in our culture, Character makes gentleman.”
The Britisher was taken aback by this pragmatic response.
Spit on the King’s Picture
Once Maharaja of Alwar ( Rajasthan) and his ministers expressed their doubts over the concept of idol worship and made acerbic comments
Swami Vivekananda reverted with a simple explanation:
Pointing to a picture of the king he told one of the ministers to go and spit on the picture
The courtroom went mute as they did not have the slightest idea about how to reply on this one.
Then Swamiji said,” Even though the Maharaja is standing in front of you, you still have this notion of him being there in the picture which restrained you from spitting on it. Similarly, whenever a Hindu worships an idol deep down he does contain the same emotion that God resides in that idol.
His sheer brilliance never failed to amaze people and rupture sanctimony.
That has been the difficulty all the while because despite having cultural and religious diversities we consider the little well of ours as the whole world. The appetite to absorb religious comments is pretty much disturbed owing to the fact that we have some rigid and inflexible idea of the religion in our brains which does not seem to stretch somehow . The reality is way too different from what we have interpreted religion as: Religion is about understanding the consciousness of this body and to devote yourself to the welfare of the people .His ideology of Hinduism depicted that having narrow attitudes can never bring about a change in the society and religious universalism will only be a distant dream. He had a selective phrase for the social foundation of the reforms which were going on at that time:
“cursed by the wheels of divisions, superstitious, without an iota of charity, hypocritical, atheistic coward.”
He summarised his learning from Vedanata as follows:
Each soul is potentially divine. The goal is to manifest this Divinity within by controlling nature, external and internal. Do this either by work, or worship, or mental discipline, 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.