For the next fifty years, this alone shall be our keynote — this, our great Mother India. Let all other vain gods disappear for the time from our minds..... What is needed is Chittashuddhi, purification of the heart. And how does that come? The first of all worship is the worship of the Virat — of those all around us. Worship It. Worship is the exact equivalent of the Sanskrit word, and no other English word will do. These are all our gods — men and animals; and the first gods we have to worship are our countrymen. These we have to worship, instead of being jealous of each other and fighting each other. It is the most terrible Karma for which we are suffering, and yet it does not open our eyes!”
— Swami Vivekananda, THE FUTURE OF INDIA, Complete Works, Vol III
Prime Minister Narendra Modi in the last ‘Maan Ki Baat’ of the year 2019, made an interesting remark. All of us experience that this generation is extremely talented and thrives on the dream to do something new. He also showed confidence in them by saying, “our new generation is an embodiment, a reflection of a new system, a new order, a new age, a new thought” and reminding them of Swami Vivekananda and called upon them to take on a resolution or the other for this decade on the National youth Day. Unfortunately, within a week of this utterance what we saw at the Jawaharlal Nehru University was not just shocking but disturbing. Watching the unruly scenes and the drama that has been unfolding before and after that, sometimes the questions come to mind whether we are worthy of fulfilling the dream of Swami Ji. Do we even realise our civilisational responsibility and the expectations of the world from us?
Often we speak about the demographic dividend but forget about the characteristics of youth that Swamiji spoke about - ‘intelligent, renouncing all for the service of others, and obedient—who can sacrifice their lives in working out my ideas and thereby do good to themselves and the country at large’. Why is it so? The answer lies in our education, which Swamiji believed should be ‘life-building, man-making, character-making assimilation of ideas’. Wherever we have wavered from this path, we are facing the problem of direction.
It is easy to talk about world-class institutions but very difficult to build one; they should be open to ideas that does not mean without any rules and regulations; they can be autonomous only if self-sufficient, and can be original only if open to the problems of our society. The closed and status-quoist systems cannot consider themselves to be ‘world-class’. The ideas of Marx, Mao or Che-Guevara, may be worth studying, at least to analyse their failures, but imposing and implanting them on Bharat would be disastrous. Even by conservative estimates, Mao killed around three crores in his great leap forward; Che-Guevara, the original master of extra-judicial killings, was directly involved in around a hundred killings and responsible for thousands more. The theoretical justification has been provided in the name of Marx to all these ‘revolutionary’ acts. Sadly, Maoism and his cultural revolution is an inspiration for some youth and the Che Guevara who proudly wrote, “It is hatred that makes our soldiers into violent and cold-blooded killing machines”, find a place on T-shirts, walls and banners in Bharat, many times even without knowing what does it stand for.
On the contrary, as the Warrior Monk, Swamiji did not fight a single war with bullets but won the entire world with his conviction and knowledge. He was proud of his civilisational identity and explained the Vedantic philosophy in the language palatable to the global audience declaring our society that believes in acceptance and respect for all and not just tolerance. ‘Spiritual Communism’ was his Mantra. Of course, he was critical of inherent weaknesses and the mentality of slaves. The untouchability and status of women were his most grudging areas among our social evils. He did not advertise about it globally for petty benefits but awakened people domestically and called upon them to be part of the solution. “If I get ten or twelve boys with the faith of Nachiketa, I can turn the thoughts and pursuits of this country in a new channel” was his call and for that Chittashuddhi, spiritualising minds and not radicalising is the solution. The youth energy and aspirations are evident; are we able to channelise through a new resolve is the challenge we should accept this National Youth Day.