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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?

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?


It depends on how you define science and religion. There were great astronomers and physicists who thought that the world has a religion. Now, what we generally mean by religion is not very satisfactory. What does the word, religion, really mean? It comes from a Latin word, religare. Ligare means ‘to bind together’. We have become disjoined, disconnected. I am a single person here. You are so many, more than thirteen hundred campers – all separate beings. No, we have to come closer and become one with all. Because, the inner thing, our essential substance, is the same in all. There is no real distinction – whether you are a male person or a female person, a Bengali or a Bihari, it does not matter. Whether you are a Christian or a Hindu or a Muslim, it does not matter. True religion is the realization of this oneness.
In our physical features, our expressions, our behaviour, and the mode of our life, there are distinctions. Two identical things never came into existence. There are some distinctions in everything, in every being. If you take the case of glass manufacturing in a factory, where thousands of glasses are being produced, and closely examine all the glasses produced, you will find there are some distinctions in each product. Exactly the same thing cannot be produced twice, however advanced the technology. So, human beings are somewhat similar, but not exactly the same, in their bodily features, facial expressions, behaviour, etc. But our essence or core is the same. We must understand the unity of mankind. Man is the highest species in the world, because of his power of ratiocination, his power of imagination, which are highly developed. These powers can be developed further by self-effort to attain the summum bonum of human life. Animals cannot do that. So, being a single unit of this species, you must prove that. Understand the meaning of life and make the best use of it. That is the purpose of religion.
Religion is to re-unite us – with what? It may be said in various ways. There are people who believe in so-called religions like Christianity, Hinduism, etc. But that is not real religion. Religion cannot be many. All religions actually have the same essential thing. Their modes of religious practices, their ways of preaching, etc. may be different, but ultimately they all emphasize on the existence of One thing that in India has been called Ātman, Paramātman, or Brahman. From a source of fire sparks go out. A human being is one of the sparks of Paramātman. And going back to and being re-united with Paramātman is what religion can achieve for us. So, this is religare. We came from that source, now we want to go back to that source, not physically, but rather through our inner realization. Being one with the common source, we become one with all.
Science may neglect religion. But even Einstein said, ‘Science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind.’ That is the relationship between science and religion. They cannot be divorced from each other, because all science will ultimately take us to the science of the non-material. Science, we think, is for material things. But the science of material things has its limitations. It cannot tell us about our inner essence. Religion is also a science: it is for the immaterial thing – the inner essence of man. ‘There are more things in heaven and earth,… than are dreamt of in your philosophy.’ – said Shakespeare in one of his famous plays. Science is not only about chemical analysis or physical laws. There is something else that unites all beings, all things, and particularly human beings. So, science may boast that it can proceed without religion, but really it cannot go very far. Religion, if it is completely in the dark about science, will also not make much progress and may land up in superstitions and bigotry. If we accept science as far as necessary and then from science dip into the region of religion, both science and religion will help every human being.        



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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