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?
Many things have to be discussed to give a complete answer to your question, but here we don’t have enough time. Swamiji did not actively take part in the freedom movement. Actually in his life time the freedom movement was yet to begin. Swamiji said that, if India were to get freedom immediately, there were too few proper men to protect it or realize its value. So Swamiji stressed on man-making as the foremost necessity for national rebuilding. Within a few years after the passing away of Swamiji the freedom movement began. Many historians have recognized his indirect influence on this movement. In America, England, and India, Swamiji made people aware of the condition of India under British rule with information and analyses. There is no doubt that he awakened the whole of India from the Himalayas to Kanyakumari, which was under foreign control. He taught his countrymen to love the Motherland, to love her poor, ignorant, oppressed children, to forget self and dedicate life for their uplift, and to gather courage to break the chain of foreign control. He inspired many national leaders and freedom fighters as a ‘voice without a form’.
Yet, no national leader realized that the first duty to be accomplished was the making of men – selfless, fearless, courageous – following the ideal placed before us by Swamiji. They did not understand that that way independence could be achieved easily. So they discovered different methods initially to achieve some degree of self-governance and later for complete independence. Subhas Chandra Bose was the only exception, who delved in the struggle for complete independence with Swamiji’s ideal in his heart. But neither Swamiji nor Subhas Chandra preached the message of a non-violent movement. So, in spite of the well documented fact that the courage of the Indian Nation Army under the leadership of Netaji Subhas expedited our independence, their contribution was ignored in the government-sponsored history of Indian freedom struggle written after Independence.
Now the governments and the political parties are paying lip service to his memory and at the same time doing their best to hide facts about his disappearance and the events thereafter. They still play down the contribution of the INA. And, of course, they never understood Swamiji’s message. But people can no more be fooled by the garlanding of Gandhiji’s memorials and the rhetoric of non-violence, while political murders go on unabated. So, politicians of all hues are now taking the name of Swamiji to prove their credentials of honesty, patriotism, and sympathy for the downtrodden.
As in many other lands, here in India also national history is written and re-written to suit the interests and opinions of the political parties in power. But the truth comes out in the long run and it cannot be covered up for too long. Otherwise, three centuries after his demise, Galileo would not have faced juridical procedures once more. And why Socrates and Jesus Christ had to die that way, and who won in the long run – they or the killers? The contemporary people cannot understand them who think much ahead of their time.
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?
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?