National Youth Day January 12, 2024:  Swami Vivekananda Jayanti


(Dr Shankar Chatterjee)

India is the most populated country in the world, with nearly a fifth of the world’s population. According to the 2022 revision of the World Population Prospects, the population stood at 1,407,563,842. India has more than 50 percent of its population below the age of 25 years and more than 65 percent below the age of 35. So, it is evident that the youths of India are a great strength. Always, India’s youth are the vibrant force.  For this, every year, January 12 is observed as National Youth Day, which is the birthday of the selfless and great saint of India, Swami Vivekananda. In 1984, the Government of India declared this day National Youth Day, and since 1985, the same has been celebrated in India every year.  

        Swami Vivekananda was born on January 12, 1863, in Calcutta now Kolkata.  His name in school/college was Narendranath Dutta, and his parents used to call him as ‘Biley’.  He was brilliant from childhood as he was the only student to pass the first division in the Presidency College entrance examination. 

To get an idea about Swamiji, a few lines are quoted here, “All power is within you, you can do anything and everything.  Believe in that; do not believe that you are weak.  You can do anything and everything without even the guidance of anyone.  Stand up and express the divinity within you. Arise, Awake, and Sleep no more.  Within each of you, there is the power to remove all wants and all miseries.  Believe in this, and that power will be manifested”. He respected all religions in his own words, “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 law of growth”.  He further said, “Feel like Christ, you will be a Christ; feel like Buddha, and you will be a Buddha. It is the feeling that is life, the strength, the vitality, without which no amount of intellectual activity can reach God.” 

            He was a great believer in hard work.  In his words, “It is a tremendous error to feel helpless.  Do not seek help from anyone.  We are our help.  If we cannot help ourselves, there is none to help us.  The moment you fear, you are nobody.  Fear is the great cause of misery in the world”. 

Today, inclusive growth is talked about in our country, but Swamiji long ago communicated in this regard: “In India, there are two great evils, trampling on the women and grinding the poor through caste restrictions.” Regarding his feelings towards Indians, he said, “I am an Indian – every Indian is my brother’; Say, the ignorant Indian, the poor and destitute Indian, the Brahmin Indian, the pariah Indian, is my brother.”

   Now, Ramakrishna Mission, as a spiritual and social service organization, is popular around the world.  Swamiji is the architect who set up the Ramakrishna Mission.  During natural calamities, etc., generous services rendered by the Ramakrishna Mission are known to all. Because of him, Indian yogic practices and culture gained popularity worldwide, particularly in Western countries. His famous saying (in Chicago, 1893), ‘Sisters and Brothers of America,’ mesmerized the world’s people as he ventilated his feelings from the core of his heart without any formality.

Swamiji had to struggle to reach Chicago, but in the process, many helped him. Among many names, I wish to mention Madam, Katharine Abbot Sanborn. Katharine Abbot Sanborn was a poet, teacher, humorist, farmer, and, above all, a humanist. Known as Kate, she was amiable, prominent, and sociable – precisely the person to act as hostess to Swamiji in those early days. She not only introduced him to Professor Wright and other men and women of influence but was instrumental in providing him with a well-rounded preview of the American scene.

On July 4, 1902, Swami Vivekananda left for his heavenly abode, but he is still in the hearts of millions worldwide for his speeches and messages and his selfless activities. 

(Author is Former Professor & Head (CPME) NIRD &PR, Hyderabad-500 030)



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