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?
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?
It requires continuous practice, continuous effort, continuous struggle for a long time. The more you do so, the more frequently it will seem to you that the world is really a series of pictures. Swami Vivekananda used this word: picture. He said: The world is a series of pictures, and man-making is the great interest running through. These are pictures indeed, but do they not carry any meaning for us? Are they empty and meaningless? Not really. These pictures serve a purpose; they are striving, as it were, to express a theme. What is that theme? – That those who try and understand that the world is ‘a series of pictures’ and not a concrete truth are becoming true men. So, as we look at the world, what is the message that we get? – That through the changing series of pictures one theme is emerging: men are becoming true men. If you accept this fact, even these pictures get a sort of meaning. And they do have a meaning. They are certainly not utter nonsense. If they were really meaningless, everything would have become airy nothing. There is definitely a purpose, even though that is not the ultimate thing. These pictures do not present the ultimate thing to us. But there is something in it to comprehend. So this world is also there.
If we continuously strive to comprehend this, a time will come when we shall be conscious of this truth. We shall no more be distracted. What are we doing now? Occasionally we are becoming vaguely aware of the truth and think that the world is just a series of pictures without a real essence. And what does a picture do? It reminds us of the real thing. What do these pictures represent? Swamiji said, ‘Your society is but the shadow of Mahāmāyā – the Universal Motherhood.’ The world is a shadow or a picture. Shadow of what? – Of ‘the Universal Motherhood’. What is this Universal Motherhood? It is the Power of Brahman – out of which everything has come. Therefore, this shadow or this picture is a form of that supreme reality, Brahman. So, we cannot say that it is absolute nothing. As I find myself inside this series of pictures, I may try to make use of it. I may try to comprehend it as ‘the shadow of the Universal Motherhood’.
After making sincere efforts for long, a time comes when the picture never appears to be anything more than a picture. By that time the purpose of the pictures is properly understood. If we had not been in this world, we would have missed the scope of realizing the supreme reality, the shadow of which is the world. And when we grasp this truth, we are no longer a burden to this world. We may rather help them for whom the world is an uncanny burden. This is the secret of the world and Swami Vivekananda’s solution to the problem of existence-nonexistence.
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?