'India throbbed in his breast, India beat in his pulses, India was his daydream, India was his nightmare. Not only that He himself became India. He was the embodiment of India in flesh and blood. He was India, he was Bharat - the very symbol of her spirituality, her purity, her wisdom, her power, her vision and her destiny/ wrote Sister Nivedita about her guru Swami Vivekananda. We get a perfect picture of India, its past, present and future from a study of Swamiji's life and teachings. That is why Rabindranath Tagore said to Romain Rolland : 'If you want to know India, study Vivekananda.'
It was a great India; a vast and varied India that Swamiji loved, lived and walked through during his parivrajaka days. From the majestic and sublime Himalayas to the tempestuous sea at Kanyakumari, through the burning deserts of Rajasthan, the Rann of Kutch upto Narayan Sarovar, Dwaraka and Somnath on the western shores, the evergreen forests of Terai, the vast Gangetic plains, the green fields with tall coconut palms of Kerala, Swamiji journeyed on in silence, with a staff and begging bowl, his days spent sometimes in royal palaces and sometimes in the huts of the lowly and poor. And all through his journey he saw the huts of hungry millions, where the cry for food had been silenced by centuries of hopeless despair, the royal palaces reveling in luxury at the cost of these very millions, the cloistered monastries sheltering monks for individual liberation, the pundits and the priests distorting the glorious Upanishadic Hinduism to heartless casteism and don't-touchism, the ruthless exploitation of the masses and women everywhere by the so-called upper class, and the faithless derision of her neo-educated and denationalized youths towards everything Indian. Yet there was no one, who better loved India, who was more proud of his motherland than Swamiji for he knew the secret springs of her life which sustained her through the ages, and which were waiting to burst forth once the encrustation of centuries was removed. He knew that once this was achieved and a new India emerged through a revival of Her spiritual culture, no power on earth would stand before her newly awakened energy.
'Our love for India/ wrote Sister Christine, 'came to birth, I think when we first heard him say the word 'India' in that marvelous voice of his. It seems incredible that so much could have been put into one small word of five letters. There was love, passion, pride, longing, adoration, tragedy, chivalry, and again love. Whole volumes could not have produced such a feeling in others. It had a magic power of creating love in those who heard it. Ever after, India became the land of heart's desire. Everything concerning her became of interest-became living-her people, her history, architecture, her manners and customs, her rivers, mountains, plains, her culture, her spiritual concepts, her scriptures.'
Swamiji's contribution to the rejuvenation and the emergence of a New India has been recognized and acknowledged by several great national leaders. Jawaharlal Nehru wrote, 'Rooted in the past, full of pride in India's prestige, Vivekananda was yet modern in his approach to life's problems, and was a kind of bridge between the past of India and her present..' However, it is difficult, even after a hundred years, to understand the true significance and relevance of Swamiji's life and message as has been expressed by Sri Aurobindo in the following inspiring words: ' The going forth of Vivekananda, marked out by the Master as the heroic soul destined to take the world between his two hands and change it, was the first visible sign to the world that India was awake not only to survive but to conquer ... Vivekananda was a soul of puissance if ever there was one, a very lion among men, but the definite work he has left behind is quite incommensurate with our impression of his creative might and energy. We perceive his influence still working gigantically, we know not well how, we know not well where, in something that is not yet formed, something leonine, grand, intuitive, upheaving that has entered the soul of India and we say, 'Behold, Vivekananda still lives in the soul of his Mother and in the souls of her children.'
We have made a humble attempt to present before our readers an illustrated book 'Swami Vivekananda and the Emergence of India through Spiritual Culture' which consists of a short biographical sketch of Swami Vivekananda and a compilation of quotations from Swamiji's writings or spoken words keeping in mind the main theme of the book. We have tried to include almost all the available pictures of Swamiji, pictures of several persons and places connected with his life and many paintings which portray some of the events of his life. Under each photograph we have tried to provide suitable information (when known), which includes the date and place where the photograph was taken, the circumstances under which it was taken. In some places suitable quotes from Swamiji's works have been inserted. A section on Ramakrishna Math and Ramakrishna Mission - their history, ideals and activities is also added as the founding of the Ramakrishna Order is one of the greatest contributions of Swami Vivekananda in his scheme of rejuvenation of India, powered as its is by his Master, the Incarnation of the Age, Sri Ramakrishna through an universal ideology which embodies the eternal truths of the spiritual world.
We are grateful to Swami Sarvasthananda, Editor, Shri Ramakrishna Jyot, for planning and giving concrete shape to this book by compiling and editing the text and profusely illustrating it with appropriate paintings and photographs. We express our gratitude to Swami Jitatmanandaji and Ramakrishna Rao of Hyderabad for their paintings on Swamiji, which immensely enhance the value of the book. We are also grateful to Mukesh Rathod, who, as usual, did an excellent job in designing and colouring the photographs and Yagnesh Pandya for his hard labour in typing the text. We express our deep gratitude to the many monks of the Ramakrishna Order, and the many centres of the Ramakrishna Math and Mission, and also to other friends, from whose publications we have used many of the photographs, paintings and also several passages, which have gone to form the content of this book. A list of acknowledgements is given below. We are also bringing out a Gujarati edition of this book. And last but not the least we are grateful to the Ministry of Human Resources Development, Government of India, for their financial assistance in the development and printing of this book under their scheme of 'Strengthening of Culture and Values in Education.'
Item Code: NAJ669 Cover: Hardcover Edition: 2005 Publisher: Sri Ramakrishan Ashrama ISBN: 8189157566 Language: English Size: 14.0 inch x 9.5 inch Pages: 90 (Throughout Color Illustrations) Other Details: Weight of the Book: 800 gms