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Complete Works of Swami Vivekananda

 
 
The old religion said that he was an atheist who did not believe in God. The new religion says that he is an atheist who does not believe in himself.
Swami Vivekananda

 
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Frequently Asked Questions

 

Swami Vivekananda said, ‘You must remember that humanity travels not from error to truth, but from truth to truth; it may be, if you like it better, from lower truth to higher truth, but never from error to truth.’ What are the higher and lower truths?

What is the meaning of character-building without any concrete organized action? Is there any example of concrete action in the last forty years of the Mahamandal?

Instead of learning character-building, how can we inspire the student community to do something for the sake of their country and serve the poor? Please explain its method.

The contribution of Swami Vivekananda in Indian freedom struggle was immense. Yet, why did he not get an important place in the history of our freedom struggle?

Each man is the soul identified. Again, Shāstras say, Aham Brahmāsmi. What is the relation between the soul and Brahman?

In what way is this training camp of the Mahamandal specially useful to us? Of the daily practices advised by you, mental concentration seems to be very important. Will you kindly explain how to practise it and how is it going to increase my powers to serve the motherland?

Why is the mind attracted to any beautiful thing?

You have said that there are three things in the make up of man: the body, the mind, and the heart. What is the heart and how can we develop it?

What is the method of imparting true education?

What is mind?

What was Swamiji’s opinion on Hinduism and other religions of the world? Why did he give primacy to religion over everything else?

What is the aim of the Mahamandal?

Does the system of varnaand āshrama have any relevance today?

Ans:

Certainly, it is not relevant now in the sense it was in the past. But we still need the ideals that worked through the system. Today’s students cannot go to the forest and live with a Guru. But they should try to follow the ideal of the brahmacharya āshrama. Brahmacharya means restraint in life, purity in thought, word, and deed, and conserving the physical and mental energy for appropriate use. Right use of our energy means applying it for good purposes. Otherwise it would automatically go wrong. That is the present relevance this ideal. We should concentrate on the core ideas instead of the external forms.
After the student life many would naturally opt for a family life, the gārhasthya āshrama. That should be founded on righteousness and discipline, so that it can be devoted to the welfare of many people. Later on, perhaps the attachments of family life will diminish. That is the spirit of vānaprastha. At a still later stage perhaps it would occur to some that enough of familial duties were done. A sense of detachment comes. Selfish desires become less and less. Perhaps one is now telling the young men of one’s locality about Sri Ramakrishna and Vivekananda and getting involved in some work for the good of others. That is: there is a touch of the sannyāsa āshrama, even while one is at home.
How is varna relevant? The actual concept is: if my intelligence does not work, if I can only earn my bread by physical labour, and if my demand grows more and more – I have the life of a shudra. Shall we spend the life in this way? It cannot be. There is an infinite ocean of power, knowledge, and bliss within me. I can see everybody as my own and work for the good of all. Why should I not be able to do anything beyond physical labour? To organize training camps boys of the Mahamandal in some places arrange for the money by working as daily wage labourers. The physical aspect of the work is apparently shudra’s. But they do it with the intelligence of the brāhmana. That is what we need today. Let everyone do one’s own duty, but let it be done with the intelligent outlook of the brāhmana. Thus a new dimension will be added to the work, resulting in the good of all. The power of the brāhmana, coming from his inner apprehension of the truth, is brahma-teja. The valour and practical efficiency of the kshatriya is kshātra-virya. If these two come together, the gods dwell there happily and shower their blessings – say the Vedas. That means, the life, the family, and the society of such people become the abode of goodness, happiness, and prosperity.
Whether we are labourers or farmers or something else by occupation, we have no reason not to acquire such intelligence, knowledge, wisdom, and feeling, along with practical efficiency. The country will rise, if we can develop ourselves in this way. And in that sense the ideals of varnaand āshrama are still valid.

 

 

The Mahamandal is working for character-building of the youths with Swamiji’s message: ‘Be and make’. It was taught by Swami Vivekananda over a century back. It seems it was lying unused at some corner. Is there no other organization doing this type of work?

When does the soul enter our body?

Religion teaches that God is there in all, that the human body is the abode of God. Then why do we not see Him? Please tell me the way to see Him and be loved by the All-Love.

What is vairāgya?

Why are the youth of India moving towards degeneration? What is the solution of this problem?

I understand that the world is like a series of pictures. But I cannot hold on to the idea all the time. The mind goes out of control. What do I do?

There was a historical background of the beginning of the Mahamandal. One immediate need was to show the right way to young people who were in disarray at a time of ideological confusion. Some others who were in a dilemma between religion and social work also needed it. Now times have changed, but the necessity of this work remains for all time. Young men in general are nowadays interested neither in politics, nor in social work, nor in poetry. For most of them the sole concern is career. Under the present circumstances, how should the ideas of the Mahamandal be placed before them?

How can we bring about national integration?

What is brahmacharya? Why should we practise it and how? What are the   means?

What is caste? What is its relation with religion?

Can science exist without religion?

Is there any difference between the ideas of Sri Ramakrishna and those of Swami Vivekananda?

Is absolute unselfishness possible under the present circumstances?

What should we do to strengthen our mental abilities?

 

 
 

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