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?
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?
The Mahamandal was not formed to solve any temporary problem. It was formed during a crisis indeed, but not just to tackle it. The crisis itself was caused by the neglect of the universal and eternal principles of human life and society. Such neglect also caused many other crises. The Mahamandal was formed and is still working to address the fundamental problem of such neglect. Now, it cannot be placed before young men to suit their liking. That will be tantamount to distortion of the ideas of the Mahamandal. Yes, these ideas have to be placed before them in such a manner that they can easily understand them. This has been done throughout the four decades of its existence, and that is why the work has spread to a considerable extent. But that does not men that these ideas are to be twisted to suit whatever they may like. That would be like vote-catching tactics.
Time and again political parties take certain resolutions at their conventions or meetings to redefine their strategies under compulsions of time, so as to be acceptable to the public. We are not for amending our ideas in that manner for spreading our organization fast. That would dilute the very ideas which are required for the wellbeing of the nation. A good doctor cannot prescribe medicines to suit the likings of the patients.
We do not blame young men for their present state. They have no opportunity to get proper education. Education worth the name is not to be found in schools or colleges, or even in homes in most cases. Instead of that, destructive ideas are being heaped on them everywhere. The governments and political parties are also helping the spread of such things. There is hardly anyone among the so-called leaders, who has proper manhood. Naturally, the young men they groom have become destructive. Economic gloom has intensified due to corruption. Poverty spoils good qualities of people. Employment opportunities are shrinking, as we must allow modern technology and foreign capital. Only the interests of the powerful must be protected, that’s all. This must give rise to cut-throat competition. Over and above that, the blessings of electronics and telecommunication have intensified the desire for enjoyment beyond all decency. The politician-administrator-antisocial nexus is opening new, fraudulent avenues of income for the youths. Alcoholic drinks are becoming more and more popular. If the whole society become united to degenerate the younger generations, who can save them?
Yes, they can save themselves, if they are determined to be saved. One can raise oneself through sincere effort. So, take courage, do not lose heart. Your mind can become your greatest friend. To tell young men how this is possible is the task of the Mahamandal. We are to get rid of the selfish desires for enjoyment. We must build strong characters. We have to be diligent and ready to face hardships of life, especially for the sake of others. Carelessness and lack of serious thinking must have no place with us. No other ideology, no amount of politics, no government can build a prosperous nation, nothing will be done for the proletariat, Rāma-rājya will remain an idle dream. Stand on your own feet. At least that will bring half a meal. In stead of wasting your time with shallow things, utilize it for fruitful study. The strength of your character will then sharpen your intelligence. Do not waste time in useless gossip and intoxication and give the lame excuse of unemployment. Work hard and you will at least be able to somehow sustain your family. If huge groups of young men participate in this silent revolution for a long time, despite all suffering, one day the whole society will have the benefit.
If many young people do not resolve to act, it will take much time to bring about a big change. So, we have to tell them the plain truth. We must tell them: Let us not waste this human life for the sake of cheap things. We must struggle to make a living, but not at the cost of honesty, not at the cost of character. Then only the day will come when the power of character will defeat the powers of animal nature. Falsehood cannot deceive all people for ever. We shall end this with the strength of our character.
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?