Birth in India is calculated with a lunar calendar – hence, birthdays will be different in each year by Gregorian Calendar. This year, 17 January is the occasion of the birth (jayanti) of Swami Vivekananda. Here, we bring a collection of motivational thoughts, quotes and teachings from Swami Vivekananda.
If we are serious in our effort to build a strong and integrated India, it is incumbent upon us to ensure that the younger generation understands and appreciates, not only its religious traditions, but also that of the other religions in the country.
Inspirational Quotes and Teachings of Swami Vivekananda
Give up all that hateful malice, that doglike bickering and barking at one another and take your stand on good purpose, right means, righteous courage, and be brave.
I admire the British perseverance and the American spirit of equality. I want you to make a European society, with India’s religion.
Be an occidental in your spirit of equality, freedom, work ethics, and energy. But if you give up Indian spirituality, leaving it aside to go after the civilization of the West, the result will be that in three generations you will be an extinct race. Because the backbone of the nation will be broken!
The best way to serve and seek God is to serve the needy, feed the hungry, help the fallen and friendless, irrespective of caste or creed.
Take up one idea. Make that one idea your life – think of it, dream of it, live on idea. Let the brain, muscles, nerves, every part of your body, be full of that idea, and just leave every other idea alone. This is the way to success.
Let us be true. Nine tenths of our life’s energy is spent in trying to make people think us that we are not. That energy would be more rightly spent in becoming that we would like to be.
Each soul is potentially divine. The goal is to manifest this divinity within by controlling nature, external and internal. Do this either by work or worship or psychic control or philosophy – by one or more or all of these – and be free. This is the whole of religion.
The mind has to be made malleable like clay. Just as clay sticks wherever you throw it, so the mind must be made to dwell upon whatever object you concentrate it.
A tremendous stream is flowing toward the ocean, carrying us all along with it; and though like straws and scraps of paper we may at times float aimlessly about, in the long run we are sure to join the Ocean of Life and Bliss.
We are ever free if we would only believe it, only have faith enough. You are the soul, free and eternal, ever free, ever blessed. Have faith enough and you will be free in a minute.
Change is always subjective. To talk of evil and misery is nonsense, because they do not exist outside. If I am immune from all anger, I never feel angry. If am immune from all hatred, I never feel hatred.
Each soul is potentially divine. The goal is to manifest this divinity within, by controlling nature, external and internal. Do this either by work or worship or psychic control or philosophy – by one or more or all of these – and be free.
How has all the knowledge in the world been gained but by concentration of the powers of the mind? The world is ready to give up its secrets if we only know how to knock, how to give if the necessary blow. The strength and force of the blow come through concentration. There is no limit to the power of the human mind. The more concentrated it is, the more power is brought to bear on one point; that is the secret.
The first sign that you are becoming religious is that you are becoming cheerful. When a man is gloomy that may be dyspepsia, but it is not religion.
By doing well the duty which is nearest to us, the duty which is in our hands now, we make ourselves stronger; and improving our strength in this manner step by step, we may reach a state in which it shall be our privilege to do the most coveted and honored duties in life and in society.
Are you unselfish? That is the question. If you are, you will be perfect without reading a single religious book, without going into a single church or temple.
To believe blindly is bad. Reason, judge for yourselves, experiment, verify whether what you have been told is true or false.
The Background, the Reality, of everyone is that same Eternal, Ever Blessed, Ever Pure, and Ever Perfect One. It is the Atman, the Soul, in the saint and the sinner, in the happy and the miserable, in the beautiful and the ugly, in men and in animals; it is the same throughout. It is the Shining One. CW, 2: 168
Teach yourselves, teach everyone his real nature, call upon the sleeping soul and see how it awakes. Power will come, glory will come, goodness will come, purity will come, and everything that is excellent will come, when this sleeping soul is roused to self-conscious activity. CW, 3: 193
The infinite oneness of the Soul is the eternal sanction of all morality, that you and I are not only brothers – every literature voicing man’s struggle towards freedom has preached that for you – but that you and I are really one. This is the dictate of Indian philosophy. This oneness is the rationale of all ethics and all spirituality. CW, 3: 189
The Vedanta recognizes no sin, it only recognizes error. And the greatest error, says the Vedanta, is to say that you are weak, that you are a sinner, a miserable creature, and that you have no power and you cannot do this and that.
Every time you think in that way, you, as it were, rivet one more link in the chain that binds you down; you add one more layer of hypnotism on to your own soul. Therefore, whosoever thinks he is weak is wrong, whosoever thinks he is impure is wrong, and is throwing a bad thought into the world.
This we must always bear in mind that in the Vedanta there is no attempt at reconciling the present life with the ideal; but this false life must go, and the real life which always exists must manifest itself, must shine out.
No man becomes purer and purer; it is a matter of greater manifestation. The veil drops away, and the native purity of the soul begins to manifest itself. Everything is ours already – infinite purity, freedom, love, and power. (Source Complete Works, 2: 295-296)
If I teach you, therefore, that your nature is evil, that you should go home and sit in sackcloth and ashes and weep your lives out because you took certain false steps, it will not help you, but will weaken you all the more, and I shall be showing you the road to more evil than good.
If this room is full of darkness for thousands of years and you come in and begin to weep and wail, ‘Oh the darkness’, will the darkness vanish? Strike a match and light comes in a moment.
What good will it do you to think all your lives, ‘Oh, I have done evil; I have made many mistakes’? It requires no ghost to tell us that. Bring in the light and the evil goes in a moment. Build up your character, and manifest your real nature, the Effulgent, the Resplendent, the Ever-pure, and call It up in everyone that you see. Source: Complete Works 2: 357
We should cultivate the optimistic temperament, and endeavor to see the good that dwells in everything. If we sit down and lament over the imperfection of our bodies and minds, we profit nothing; it is the heroic endeavor to subdue adverse circumstances that carries our spirit upwards. The object of life is to learn the laws of spiritual progress.
As the tortoise tucks its feet and head inside the shell, and you may kill it and break it in pieces, and yet it will not come out, even so the character of that man who has control over his motives and organs is unchangeably established. He controls his own inner forces, and nothing can draw them out against his will. . . Such a man is safe forever; he cannot do any evil. You may place him in any company, there will be no danger for him.
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